Address Menstrual Hygiene Management knowledge, awareness and services gaps among adolescent deaf girls … GNAD urges gov’t

Ghana National Association of Deaf (GNAD) has called on state and non-state actors to address the critical knowledge, awareness, and services gaps on proper Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) among adolescent girls, especially deaf girls.

According to GNAD proper, MHM is an important determinant of the overall wellbeing of women and girls. “Proper menstrual hygiene practices depend on awareness and knowledge about everything on menstruation. The level of knowledge of menstruation and its associated changes have impact on how girls react to their first menstrual experience. Women and girls who have good knowledge on menstrual issues can engage in more hygienic and safer menstrual practices.”

The call was contained in a statement signed by the Executive Director, Ghana National Association of the Deaf to mark the World Menstrual Hygiene Day.

 

“As we join the international community to celebrate and highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management, Ghana National Association of Deaf (GNAD) wishes to draw the attention of state and non-state actors to the critical knowledge and awareness and services gaps, especially among adolescent deaf girls.

The association wishes to state that the provision of sex education in an accessible format through the inclusion of sign language interpreters on the electronic media or sub-titles are critical in ensuring full access to quality sex education and education on proper menstrual hygiene management.

We wish to extend a hand of congratulations to institutions that are promoting access to SRH information and services to the Deaf community. Notable among them include some selected health facilities in the country.

GNAD has invested significantly in the training and certifying Ghanaian Sign Language Interpreters through various projects including our program at the University of Cape Coast and the training of health workers in basic sign language. We call on the Ministry of Health to as a matter of urgency, come out with enforceable policies and standards that will improve and address barriers to sexual and reproductive health services for the Deaf community. We call on the Ghana Health Services to improve universal coverage of sex and reproductive health services by collaborating with the association to ensure that services designed are deaf-friendly. We also call on Parliament and Parliament Selected Committee on Health to reform within the National Health Insurance Scheme so that Sign Language Services is captured in the National Health Insurance Scheme to ease the cost barrier that hinders access to sexual and reproductive health services for the Deaf community.” portions of the statement read.

 

Below is the full statement

 

INTERNATIONAL MENSTRUAL HYGIENE DAY: GNAD CALLS FOR SUPPORT FOR ADOLESCENTS DEAF GIRLS

May 28th every year marks World Menstrual Hygiene Day and is observed across the world.  Overall, World Menstrual Hygiene Day seeks and highlights global awareness of the importance of proper Menstrual Hygiene Management and highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management. As we join the world to observe this special day, it is important to pause and reflect on the situation of young and adolescent girls who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Proper Menstrual Hygiene Management is an important determinant of the overall well-being of women and girls. Proper menstrual hygiene practices depend on awareness and knowledge about everything on menstruation. The level of knowledge of menstruation and its associated changes have an impact on how girls react to their first menstrual experience. Women and girls who have good knowledge of menstrual issues can engage in more hygienic and safer menstrual practices.  Such women and girls are thus less vulnerable to have reproductive tract infections and other reproductive health diseases.

Therefore, awareness about menstruation and hygienic menstrual practices may help reduce reproductive tract infections and other associated diseases. There is also evidence that there is some relationship between menstrual hygiene management and school attendance and better education outcomes for girls. However, menstruation and issues relating to menstrual practices are still taboos and many adolescent girls are ignorant of facts and menstrual hygiene practices.

It is generally known that deaf women and girls have the same menstrual health needs as hearing persons. This includes being able to access quality information on menstrual issues, and access to facilities that offer them privacy, safety, and support during menstruation. Given that mainstream healthcare information and services may not be accessible to deaf women and girls, they may also need additional and specialized support services to enable them to get access to quality information and services regarding menstruation and other related issues.

Evidence has shown that deaf adolescent girls lack the ability to manage their menstrual health with adequate knowledge, safety, and dignity and without stigma because they do not have adequate sex education. Adolescent deaf girls may have greater challenges managing their menstruation than their hearing counterparts due to communication barriers with their hearing parents.

The situation will likely be more serious during pandemics such as the COVID-19 because although “Periods do not stop in pandemics”, services may be limited.  During pandemics, the poor become poorer and those at the margins are further pushed to the peripheries. Resources are shifted to take care of emergencies and there will be less attention on problems that are not life-threatening, in the short term. Issues such as menstrual hygiene for girls may not receive any attention at all. In fact, safety measures to control the spread of the virus, such as restrictions in movement, could rather put them in danger, as they would lose contact with their major source of information and support.

As we join the international community to celebrate and highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management, the Ghana National Association of Deaf (GNAD) wishes to draw the attention of state and non-state actors to the critical knowledge and awareness and services gaps, especially among adolescent deaf girls. The association wishes to state that the provision of sex education in an accessible format through the inclusion of sign language interpreters on the electronic media or sub-titles are critical in ensuring full access to quality sex education and education on proper menstrual hygiene management.

We wish to extend a hand of congratulations to institutions that are promoting access to SRH information and services to the Deaf community. Notable among them include some selected health facilities in the country.

GNAD has invested significantly in the training and certifying Ghanaian Sign Language Interpreters through various projects including our program at the University of Cape Coast and the training of health workers in basic sign language. We call on the Ministry of Health to as a matter of urgency, come out with enforceable policies and standards that will improve and address barriers to sexual and reproductive health services for the Deaf community. We call on the Ghana Health Services to improve universal coverage of sex and reproductive health services by collaborating with the association to ensure that services designed are deaf-friendly. We also call on Parliament and Parliament Selected Committee on Health to reform within the National Health Insurance Scheme so that Sign Language Services is captured in the National Health Insurance Scheme to ease the cost barrier that hinders access to sexual and reproductive health services for the Deaf community.

The GNAD shall continue to collaborate with the relevant intuitions to enhance the promotion of access to information and quality sex and reproductive health information and services for the Deaf community.

 

Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH

 

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