Data on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) are scarce, especially at a large scale. As Melinda Gates noted at the recent Women Deliver conference in May, “Data underpins everything… If you don’t have data, you don’t know where to make good investments. This is why I’m so excited about the potential of the commitment to close the gender data gap”.
Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020) – an innovative smartphone-based population survey – is responding to this need by collecting some of the first large-scale, population- level data on menstrual hygiene management (MHM).
Results from PMA2015/Kaduna-R2, the second round of data collection in Kaduna State, Nigeria, found that only 37% of women age 15-49 have everything they need for proper MHM – such as clean materials, a facility, pain medication, and places to dispose of used products. Additionally, rural women in Kaduna are consistently less likely to have safe, clean and private MHM facilities compared to those in urban areas. Findings also include which environments women are using for MHM and highlight disparities in facility characteristics among urban and rural women. The survey included 2,934 females of reproductive age (15 to 49 years).
“These results reveal a widespread need for improved menstrual hygiene management options for women in Kaduna. Something as simple as making disposable sanitary pads affordable and readily available for Nigerian girls and women to properly manage their periods will greatly improve their lives,” comments Dr. Elizabeth Omoluabi, principal investigator for the PMA2020/Nigeria survey.
“At the Women Deliver conference this past May, there were two topics that created constant buzz: menstrual hygiene management and the need for data,” recalls Dr. Linnea Zimmerman, who advises PMA2020 on the technicalities of mobile-assisted data collection. “PMA2020 collects data on MHM in several countries currently – so I was excited that we are already contributing to filling the ‘data gap’ and helping women and girls in a timely and relevant way.”
MHM is the practice of using clean materials to absorb menstrual blood that can be changed privately, safely, hygienically, and as often as needed throughout the duration of the menstrual cycle. MHM impacts multiple areas across the sustainable development goal agenda including health, education, gender equality, and water and sanitation.
PMA2020 looks at how menstrual hygiene is managed across age groups and across wealth categories, including the types of materials used to collect menstrual blood, the main environments where MHM is practiced, and the safety, privacy, and cleanliness of these environments, among other metrics. Additional briefs featuring MHM findings from other program countries are forthcoming.
MHM brief release announcement – Women Deliver Updated: July 29, 2016 PMA2020 uses innovative mobile technology to support low-cost, rapid-turnaround surveys monitoring key indicators for family planning, water, sanitation and hygiene and other health and development indicators. The project is implemented by local university and research organizations in 10 countries, deploying a cadre of female resident enumerators trained in mobile-assisted data collection. PMA2020 establishes a sentinel data collection platform that can be utilized for other health program areas. PMA2020 is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
PMA2020/Nigeria implementation is led by the Center for Research, Evaluation Resources, and Development (CRERD). Bayero University Kano (BUK) also provides support to the survey through the Nigeria Consortium Steering Committee for PMA2020/Nigeria. The survey is endorsed and supported by the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Population Commission, and the National Bureau of Statistics.