Samuel Luka, Bauchi
A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Plan International has concluded its three-year project on Menstrual Health Management across three Local government areas (LGAs) of Bauchi state with a call from Stakeholders for its sustenance and extension to others.
Plan International is an Independent Development and Humanitarian NGO that advances children’s rights and equality for girls Which has been working in Nigeria since 2014.
In his opening remarks during Plan’s project Close-out meeting held at Hazibal Suits in Bauchi on Wednesday, the Executive Chairman, Bauchi state Primary Health Care Development Agency (BSPHCDA), Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed said that the project was domiciled at the agency due to its advantage of been a point of link with other structures across the state.
Represented by the Director of the Agency, Suleiman Madugu, the Executive Chairman said that the program is tripartite one that concerns the partner, the government as well as the community which the program is meant for.
While stating that the program has recorded tremendous achievements in the state, the representative of the Agency’s Executive Chairman said, the project has succeeded in making adolescent girls have better knowledge of how to manage menstrual health hygiene properly without stress.
“On behalf of the Chairman in absentia, we request for re-engagement of this program if possible”, he said.
Also speaking, the Director Bauchi state ministry of Women Affairs and Child Development, Fatima Abdullahi who Represented the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, appreciated Plan International for carrying out the program in the state.
She said that the Plan International did well in dealing with such a sensitive issues that touches the lives of women and adolescent girls in the state.
“The project of menstrual hygiene management which was supported by Kimberly Clark Corporation and implemented by CIPRHES in collaboration with the Bauchi state Primary Health Care Development Agency (BSPHCDA) and other relevant MDAs targeted at three focused LGAs of Bauchi, Ningi and Katagum has inculcated the knowledge and best practice of proper menstrual hygiene management of our women of reproductive age in in-school as well as out of school adolescent girls in the state”, she said.
Fatima Abdullahi stated that the Bauchi state government through the ministry of women affairs and child development as a key Stakeholder has benefitted immensely in the area of building the capacity of the ministry’s staff on menstrual health education.
She noted that the intervention has also increased male parents involvement and also encouraged them to hold unto their responsibilities by providing monthly sanitary pads to their female children and wards during their monthly shopping.
The Director who said that the benefit of the program can not be over emphasized, said many MDAs have put up a request soliciting for the project to cover the remaining 17 local government areas of the state.
“As a result of this intervention, we are now better informed and in a position to sustain the legacy even after the close-out”, the Director said.
“I would also want to use this opportunity and plead with Plan International to do everything humanly possible and ensure that approval is granted by the donor for the extension of the project to cover all LGAs in the state, Fatima Abdullahi said.
Earlier in an opening remarks, the Director Programme Quality and Innovation of Plan International Nigeria, Helen Idiong, said that the project was implemented by Plan International in collaboration with Community Initiative for the promotion of health and education sector as a partner.
According to her, the Project was funded by the Kimberly Clark foundation which is aimed at increasing the individual and collective agency of women and adolescent girls to exercise their rights to gender responsive, adolescent friendly and inclusive menstrual hygiene management.
“This project has lasted for three years in the three local governments of Ningi, Katagum and Bauchi, and yet in these three years, the things we have heard, the joy we have heard from school girls has given us a lot of excitement”, she said.
Idiong who stated that on joining the NGO, she was informed that menstrual hygiene was a problem and a cultural shock in Bauchi unlike the southern part of Nigeria where almost everybody knows it, expressed delight that innovative approaches deployed, including setting up Pads bank was able to change the narrative.
“In Nigeria, a significant percentage of women still lack adequate privacy for menstrual health management, they don’t have water, they don’t have sanitation, they don’t have privacy for this natural process and we have various cultural restrictions that have led to a culture of silence and shaming among school girls for something that is a natural biological process”, she lamented.
Helen Idiong explained that lack of tangible materials such as hygiene pads, access to water, gender disaggregated toilets at schools and other public places have further compounded the problem, thereby leading to a lot of psycho-social challenges.
“To address the challenges, Plan International with funding from Kimberly Clark and the Kotex menstrual pads brand implemented the project from 2021 using gender transformative processes which has resulted in positive change in attitude, including the elimination of stigma related to menstrual health and hygiene”, she said.
Our Correspondent reports that the Close-out meeting was organized by the Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency (BSPHCDA) in Collaboration with Plan International Nigeria.
The meeting attracted the attendance of Stakeholders, such as traditional and religious leaders, Civil Society Organizations, Community members, among others, who commended Plan International for completing the program successfully with a lot of positive impact on adolescent girls.