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Global Research Update #30

WoMena, 2020: Beyond Distribution: A Feasibility Study of Introducing a Menstrual Health Component into Four Secondary Schools in Buikwe District, Uganda (Phase 1).  A pilot intervention was conducted by WoMena Uganda in collaboration with the Icelandic Embassy and the Icelandic International Assistance Development Agency in four secondary schools in Buikwe districts, Uganda to integrate a Menstrual Health Management (MHM) component into the selected secondary schools and to assess the appropriateness of introducing menstrual cups (MCs) and reusable pads to schoolgirls from April 2017 to November 2018. The intervention consisted of a pre-pilot test of 50 women to assess the perceived appropriateness of the MHM reusable products in the adult community in the district, the training of 34 trainers (school personnel) to facilitate and teach the MHM intervention at the four secondary schools, the training of 1,254 schoolgirls in MHM methods and the use of MHM reusable products, and the distribution of reusable MHM products (MCs and reusable pads).Results: More than 80% of the surveyed girls who had tried the MC reported that they would continue to use it and almost all of them reported that they would recommend it to other girls and women in the community. Almost all the surveyed girls had tried the distributed reusable pads and found it to be an appropriate MHM product which they would recommend to female friends and family. 78% of girls felt comfortable cleaning the MC at home, 23% away from home. For reusable pads the respective numbers were 97% and 38%. However, 62% of girls noted that soap was not, or only sometimes, accessible at schools. At the baseline, 2% of respondents reported feeling confident talking about MHM with both male and female teachers, at midline 30% of the surveyed girls reported feeling confident. Lessons learned from this pilot intervention will be used to guide decision making and development of phase 2 of the project to expand and integrate the MHM component into 28 primary schools in Buikwe District.

WoMena, 2020: Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on menstruating women and girls in Uganda: Preliminary findings. WoMena Uganda undertook a rapid assessment among 69 participants in six districts in Uganda to understand the impact of COVID-19 on how women and girls manage their menstruation in Uganda. Results: 35% of participants are experiencing changes in their menstruation (e.g. irregular and painful periods) mostly due to stress. 72% of respondents reported that there has been an increase of 17-33% in the price of disposable pads. 34% of respondents reported that they have had difficulty in accessing menstrual health management (MHM) products due to loss of household income. Participants who use menstrual cups reported more positive feedback in terms of accessing MHM products and managing their period during the COVID-19 pandemic. 14% of the respondents knew someone or experienced themselves violence because they are using household finances for MHM products.

WoMena FAQ, 2020: What are the links between Menstrual Health Management & Gender-Based Violence. There is a growing understanding that gender-based violence (GBV) has many dimensions, both physical and psychological. It additionally includes both a deliberate deprive of dignity and access to basic services. This also applies to MHM. This FAQ explores the link between GBV and MHM. Many dimensions have been found to have an association with GBV: early/child/forced marriage, transactional sex, poor access to WASH in schools, and in life in general, education, and misconceptions and harmful traditional practices. Many of these associations are or can be expected to be exacerbated in crisis situations e.g. in humanitarian settings and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Babagoli et al., 2020: The Cost‐Benefit and Cost‐Effectiveness of Providing Menstrual Cups and Sanitary Pads to Schoolgirls in Rural Kenya. A randomised controlled feasibility study was conducted to explore the cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness of providing menstrual cups (MCs) and disposable pads to primary schoolgirls aged 14-16 years old in Siaya County in western Kenya. Results: Provision of MCs costs 2.73 USD annually per student, and provision of disposable pads costs 22.42 USD annually per student. The health impacts of the MC programme were greater compared to the health effects of disposable pad programmes. The disposable pad programme had positive benefits on school attendance. However, the authors said that they may not be able to detect a treatment effect of the MC on school attendance given the longer time required to be adopted to the MC.

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