In celebration of the Menstrual Hygiene (MH) Day on May 28, the Department of Education (DepEd) Philippines, in collaboration with UNICEF, Save the Children, and GIZ, conducted a webinar on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) entitled, “MHM Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic”.
The webinar targeted both learners and DepEd personnel, and aimed to promote MHM as part of the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Schools (WinS) Program under Oplan sa Kalusugan sa DepEd, to discuss the importance of MH practices during the pandemic, and to provide timely information and options for MHM to learners and the general public.
A total of 13,901 individuals from across all 16 regions of the Philippines registered for the webinar. The registrants come from widely varying age groups and included teachers, WinS coordinators, learners, and parents. The event was also broadcasted live via the MH Day Philippines and DepEd Philippines Facebook pages for the general public. The livestream generated a total of 235,408 views and 18,042 post engagements.
The program started with an opening remarks delivered by DepEd Chief Health Program Officer, Dr. Ma. Corazon Dumlao, on behalf of DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain del Pascua. This was followed by a presentation on the impact of COVID 19 on MHM, which tackled the effects of pandemics, particularly in aggravating current challenges on WASH infrastructure, access to supplies, and access to information. Recommendations to address these challenges included mainstreaming of MHM lessons in distance and blended learning delivery modes, inclusion of MHM in emergency response, continuing efforts to ensure access to WASH infrastructure and MHM supplies in schools, among others.
Following this, the WinS monitoring data results for MHM were presented, showing improvements in the first two years of implementation, with almost all aspects relating to MHM seeing improvements from baseline (2017/18) to follow up (2018/19). Infrastructure, however, was shown to be a continuing challenge, highlighting the need for long-term planning and investment from higher levels of the education sector in addressing this challenge.
Operationalizing MHM interventions in schools followed the WinS data presentation. The primary interventions recommended were access to MHM information, female-friendly sanitation facilities, and access to MHM supplies. Secondary interventions such as identification of a focal person for MHM in schools, organizing MHM sessions for girls, orientation of boys and make teachers, and provision of pain relief medications were also recommended to complement the three primary interventions specified.
The webinar was concluded with a live tutorial on reusable pad or pasador making. The use of pasador comes with many benefits as reusable pads are eco-friendly, leak-proof and easy to clean, and can last up to 3-5 years. Pasador-making as part of a classroom activity also serves as a fun and effective way to engage learners on discussions relating to MHM. The MH Day webinar serves as a kick-off event to the webinar series which will be launched by the DepEd Bureau of Learner Support Services – School Health Division as part of the Department’s capacity building efforts to improve WASH in Schools.