Zanzibar touts reproductive health education

ZANZIBAR: MINISTER for Community Development, Elders, Gender and Children, Riziki Pembe Juma, has urged parents and schools to educate children, especially girls, about reproductive health.

Speaking at a gathering to mark Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD), an annual awareness day (on May 28) to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) at a global level, she said that knowledge of reproductive health is essential for children and teens.

She said knowledge can help them avoid diseases, such as sexually transmitted diseases, infertility risks, and how to manage menstrual cycles.

The theme for World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2024 is ‘Period Friendly World’. The minister highlighted the issue of girls, beginning their menstruation, without understanding the phenomenon that their bodies experience with some seeing it as an embarrassment and still perceived as a taboo.

The Minister said “menstrual health is a key component of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights, yet many girls lack proper access to menstrual health products and hygiene facilities. We need to educate and help them.”

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He said at the event organized by founder of the WAJAMAMA Foundation in collaboration with Zanzibar Maisha Bora Foundation (ZMBF), that there are also some parents who make mistakes by giving their children unwanted medicine when they enter their period and cause side effects on their reproductive organs.

Ms Nafisa Jidawi from WAJAMAMA and Chief Executive Officer of Zanzibar Maisha Bora foundation, Ms Fatma Fungo promised to cooperate with the government to ensure that reproductive and menstrual education reaches all groups.

Ms Sophia Ngalapi from Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) said during the debate to mark the day that, despite various efforts being taken by stakeholders in mobilizing students and the community on safe menstruation, more efforts are still needed to leave no teen behind.

Ms Lilly Deameada and Ms Maja Trzaskowslea from Zanzibar International School said that statistics shows that significant number of women on the Mainland and in Zanzibar Islands face the challenge of not having a safe period due to various challenges including poverty, poor infrastructure, lack of water supply and lack of proper and safe sanitary equipment.

“There are some traditions that still have wrong perception on talking about menstruation openly. Fortunately, with increasing education, there are positive changes,” said Lilly while Maja said that “Let us work together to reduce challenges facing girls in managing menstruation including ensuring all girls can access menstrual pads.”

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