Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum – UYAHF joined the rest of the world in the International Menstrual Hygiene Day celebrations an event that aims to raise awareness of the importance for women and girls to hygienically manage their menstruation.

Menstruation remains a taboo in many parts of the world even today despite efforts to erase the stigma associated with periods. Menstruation is a healthy biological process of women and girls’ reproductive cycle, yet, culturally, it is still considered to be dirty and impure in various parts of Africa and Asia. This makes menstruating girls and women often feel ashamed and embarrassed to talk about, which can negatively affect their health.

Uganda’s adolescent birth rate is 140/1,000 girls and this compares unfavorably with Rwanda at 41, Kenya at 101 and Tanzania at 128 (Countdown to 2015. A Decade of Tracking Progress on Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival). One of the factors that result into the high birthrate is the cultural misconceptions that when a girl gets her first menstruation flow, she ought to get married leading to adolescent marriages and pregnancy complications.

More than 300,000 teenagers who get pregnant in Uganda account for the bulk of unwanted pregnancies, which end up in unintended births or abortion (UBOS and Macro International Inc 2011) and it is evident that Babies born to adolescent mothers face a substantially 50% higher risk of being still born or dying in the first few weeks than those born to mothers aged 20 to 24 years old.

Unfortunately, 43% of women in rural Uganda lack sufficient clean materials during their Menstrual periods

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