Normalise Periods 

Akangjungla

With the commitment to promote good menstrual health and hygiene, the Menstrual Health Day was observed on May 28 last worldwide. With the theme, ‘Making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030,’ few reports of the Menstrual Health Day observed in parts of Nagaland were published in the local dailies.

Taking forward the menstrual health and hygiene interventions, and to create more awareness on menstrual hygiene, menstrual hygiene management, and to normalise the discussion on menstruation made it to the core agendas of the day. 

Menstruation is the period of discharging blood which occurs each month and signifies the menstrual cycle of females. Menstruation period is normal, a natural phenomenon and therefore, every girl should experience the menstrual cycle in a dignified and healthy way. Human civilization has moved on very far since its genesis, yet menstruation is still a taboo in many parts of the world, including in Nagaland. 

According to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), 64.5% adolescent girls use sanitary napkins, 49.3% use cloth and 15.2% use locally produced napkins. The latest survey found that there has been a significant increase in the use of sanitary napkins among adolescent girls. It increased by 22% points during the last five years, while the use of locally prepared napkins remains at the same level of around 15%. Overall, 78% of adolescent girls use a hygienic method of protection during their menstrual cycle (2019-21), a substantial increase from 58.3% about five years back. Despite the progress, approximately 27% of young rural women still resort to unsanitary means of protection during their menstrual cycle leading to risking their lives. 

Highlighting the need to normalise period talks in the Nagaland context, the Nagaland Adolescent Girls’ Club (NAGC) Nodal Officer, Juliana Medom in a conversation with this newspaper observed that ‘what is very basic is considered a taboo subject… we want to talk about it because it has to become a normal thing.’ Recognising the necessary for menstrual health and hygiene interventions, the club under the Nagaland State Social Welfare Board has been visiting schools especially government schools. 

Poor menstrual hygiene has far-reaching consequences, the most hazardous being on the health, education, social interaction and others. While intervention programmes are designed and implemented at different levels, it requires a collective response to rise above the barriers for menstrual hygiene such as poverty, social stigma and cultural taboos, affordable menstrual products, proper sanitation facilities at home, public places etc. Menstrual hygiene is a public health concern and hence, it demands collective and urgent action from the government, civil societies, churches, individuals to normalise and enhance good menstrual health and hygiene. 

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