Overview of a week long Health awareness campaign in Parbat
Immediately after the winter vacation started, on 16th of Poush at approximately 7:00 a.m in the morning, INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE(IOM) bus headed towards Parbat to conduct health awareness campaign in PAIYU RURAL MUNICIPALITY, PARBAT. The picture above comprises of 14 members consisting of 31st and 32nd batch students studying BACHELOR`S IN PUBLIC HEALTH in IOM who helped us directly and indirectly and 11 members from 32nd batch were volunteering for this campaign.
- Screening test for blood glucose level and blood pressure measurement for the adult villagers (almost 173 villagers) by licensed H.A who were currently doing B.P.H
- Nutrition and Personal Hygiene knowledge for practical implementation in day-to-day life for students of Grade 5,6 and 7
- Menstrual Hygiene awareness for students (both girls and boys) of Grade 8,9 and 10
Why is issue of menstrual hygiene focused than any other topics?
- It`s a process every woman has to go through during her lifetime.
- Most stigmatized topic to discuss about both in urban and rural part of Nepal.
- Students (especially girls) are taught in schools only after many girls have already reached menarche.
- Teachers skip whole ‘ADOLESCENT SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH’ chapter where the topic of menstruation is covered.
- To make students aware about normal physiology, nutritional demand of body, exercise, rest, procedure to wear pad or cloth maintaining hygiene, proper disposal of pad, myths in our society and so on.
- Menstrual hygiene awareness is not just teaching about physiology of bleeding and wearing pad, it`s about knowing own body properly, encouraging other to respect woman`s body, taking proper care in nutritional level and hygiene (for eg. even if they use cloth), getting rid of stigmas and taboos in society, bringing more girls talk without hesitation about curiosities and problems, maintaining hygiene of female reproductive organ, maintaining woman`s health, keeping them away from health problems caused by lack of awareness and ignorant attitude and many more above these.
- If neglected, it leads to toxic shock syndrome, reproductive tract infections (RTI), and other vaginal diseases. Poor genital hygiene negatively affects adolescents' health.
Why does it require nation-wide exposure?
- ‘’CHAUPADDI PRATHA’’ is one of the menstrual taboos practiced in the western part of our country. In the name of tradition, it has large impact on woman`s health, security, educational and financial growth caused due to social seclusion.
- To break stigma to openly discuss about ‘menstruation’.
- For promotion of health of women.
Few common examples that happen in our everyday life:
- While travelling by means of road transport, there are no dustbins for the disposal of pads.
- A girl feels ashamed and cannot clearly state she needs to buy ‘pad’ when she visits pharmacies.
- A boy feels ashamed even to touch pad, forget talking about menstruation.
- Layering pads with newspapers because of hesitation to show pad.
Why the technique of teaching both girls and boys together approached though it is uncommon topic and girls might hesitate to ask about it?
We were aware about this fact, on the other hand they were going through adolescence filled with lot of shyness and hesitation to talk about changes in their body. However, main reasons behind it were:-
- To aware both girls and boys about menstruation (since it is skipped in class)
- To normalize the topic among them and letting them know it was a normal physical phenomenon for girls like breathing is normal to living beings
- To teach boys how to provide any form of help to menstruating friends or any other female in their house about various things such as hygiene, diet, exercise, rest, sleep and so on.
- To enable boys share knowledge to their mothers or sisters who have never been to school or younger siblings who hit puberty about the changes that would take place and take care themselves in best possible way.
- To make an attempt to minimize the problems due to habits of boys such as teasing girls for having stains, having carried pads on their bags and showcasing it publicly in order to make her uncomfortable, not being considerate about hormonal changes and mood swings etc.
Analysis about the schools in Parbat:
Total no.: Out of 10 schools, 9 were government and 1 was boarding school.
GOVERNMENT SCHOOL: The government school that were near to bazaar were more approach-friendly than those who were far, so were the teachers and students. In some schools, even teachers were asking to show procedure to wear pads among students to let them know properly whereas in other, even teachers were uninterested, hesitating and giggling while we were discussing the topic. We were glad that in many schools even the boys came to demonstrate the procedure to wear pad. We requested teachers to discuss about it openly to students especially appoint female teachers as focal person, make provision of dustbins in girl`s toilet, provide pads on student`s requirement and boys to behave properly to menstruating girls. This was so unusual to hear that some students even shared that their parents would scold them if they took pads back home.
BOARDING SCHOOL: It was near to bazaar and the teachers and students knew a lot of things about menstrual hygiene, they were interactive and showed much concern about the ways to discourage menstrual taboos.
Having led by my classmate Mr. Narayan Neupane as the coordinator and the team, the campaign was a success. Paiyu Rural Municipality was very supportive for the conduction of program and provided us with various assistance possible. The people were very happy seeing our work so were the schools.
It`s just a beginning, I realized Nepal has to do a lot to progress on these topics. Even the literate and educated people were congratulating us for bringing such an amazing campaign but they were not implementing it in their everyday life,’karayo karayo dakshina harayo’ is the sad truth of people in Nepal. But seeing the response of the students I`m assured that next generation will excel on this topic and will strike forward for national development.