The East and Southern African Menstrual Health (EAS MH) Research Network is a group of individuals, institutions and organisations working on MH research in ESA. The lack of standardised indicators or tools for data collection for MH is a barrier for funders and decision-makers to implement evidence-based policies that effectively address MH issues.The Network was initiated to address this by supporting rigorous evidence and strengthening research capacity on MH in the region.
To improve communication, connection and collaboration between MH researchers in East and Southern Africa, North America, and Europe.
MH has gained increased attention on the global development agenda as a result of evidence that demonstrates that poor MH negatively impacts girls’ education, health, and well-being. Menstruation operates as a neglected social determinant of sexual and reproductive health and rights outcomes, often caused by a lack of knowledge, stigma, and negative social norms. This can critically impact the life course of girls and young women and contributes to the cycle of early pregnancy and marriage, as well as, poor educational attainment and population health outcomes.
Despite this, good MH remains a neglected component of girls’ and women’s health agendas of national/government and development agencies, and there is a lack of evidence on which to base policy. This evidence-gap causes significant challenges in developing effective programming that responds to the menstrual needs of girls and women worldwide.
The East African MH Research Network was initiated in November 2017, and expanded in September 2018 with a seed grant from the UK Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The network now includes Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, making it the East and Southern African MH Research Network.
Network members are currently focusing on 4 key MH research themes through capacity strengthening, in line with the current seed money grant award:
Afua Twum-Danso Imoh, Sheffield University
Emily Wilson-Smith, Irise International, UK and University of Sheffield, UK.
Clare Tandon, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Helen Weiss, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
John Ssendagire, Makerere University
Mandu Reid, The Cup Effect, UK, Malawi, Kenya
Marni Summer, Columbia University
Penelope Phillips-Howard, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Rashida Ferrand, Biomedical Research and Training Institute
Sarah Harman, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
The Steering Committee is responsible to:
Partners and Key Researchers:
The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), with Elizabeth Nyothach as the lead representative. KEMRI generates evidence-based multidisciplinary research to inform the government on Kenya’s health needs and policy formulation. Ms Nyothach has a MA in Project Planning and Management, and was the programme manager for the Menstrual Solutions pilot study exploring the acceptability use and impact of cups or pads against controls in primary schoolgirls in Kenya. She is currently Trial Manager of the MRC/DfID/WT-funded Cups or Cash for Girls Trial (PI: Phillips-Howard). She is interested in ethical issues arising from MHM-related research. She is co-leading this working group, and will host the other country leads on their visit to Kenya. Dr Phillips-Howard and team are embedded within KEMRI to provide scientific support for MH-related field studies.
Medical Research Council/Uganda Virus Research Institute and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Uganda Research Unit (MRC/UVRI and LSHTM), with Dr Catherine Kansiime as the lead representative. Dr Kansiime is project lead for the MRC-funded MENISCUS-2 school-based MHM intervention assessing the association of MHM with school absenteeism in 2 secondary schools (PI: Weiss). Dr Kansiime led the dissemination workshop for MENISCUS-2 in Uganda and is co-leading the working group on developing educational materials. With Prof Weiss, Dr Kansiime is applying for funds for a school-based CRT of MHM in Uganda, building on the MENISCUS-2 study.
Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI) with Mandi Tembo, a Zimbabwean PhD student with LSHTM, as the lead representative. Tembo’s PhD study is assessing the acceptability, uptake, and effectiveness of a comprehensive MHM intervention, providing MHM education, products, analgesics, nested within a larger, community-based sexual and reproductive health trial in Zimbabwe (PI: Ferrand). Tembo co-leads the working group on working with vulnerable groups.
National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), the Mwanza Intervention Trials Unit, with Elialilia Sarikiaeli-Okello, a senior social scientist at NIMR, Mwanza Tanzania, as the lead representative. Okello is currently involved in the analysis and publication of research studies that have been completed under SHARE including the Mikono Safi Study in Kagera, Northwest Tanzania and the Women Sanitation vulnerabilities in Iringa, Southern Tanzania. She is also working on the preparation of new studies related to WASH particularly menstruation hygiene management in primary schools.
Team of Collaborators on the network:
For further information or questions, please contact our Network Co-ordinator:
Catherine Kansiime, MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Ugandan Research Unit in Uganda, Catherine.Kansiime@mrcuganda.org