Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is an essential aspect of hygiene for women and adolescent girls between menarche and menopause. Despite being an important issue concerning women and girls in the menstruating age group MHM is often overlooked in post-disaster responses. Further, there is limited evidence of menstrual hygiene management in humanitarian settings. This study aims to describe the experiences and perceptions of women and adolescent girls on menstrual hygiene management in post-earthquake Nepal.
A mixed methods study was carried out among the earthquake affected women and adolescent girls in three villages of Sindhupalchowk district of Nepal. Data was collected using a semi-structured questionnaire that captured experiences and perceptions of respondents on menstrual hygiene management in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake. Quantitative data were triangulated with in-depth interview regarding respondent’s personal experiences of menstrual hygiene management.
Menstrual hygiene was rated as the sixth highest overall need and perceived as an immediate need by 18.8% of the respondents. There were 42.8% women & girls who menstruated within first week of the earthquake. Reusable sanitary cloth were used by about 66.7% of the respondents before the earthquake and remained a popular method (76.1%) post-earthquake. None of the respondents reported receiving menstrual adsorbents as relief materials in the first month following the earthquake. Disposable pads (77.8%) were preferred by respondents as they were perceived to be clean and convenient to use. Most respondents (73.5%) felt that reusable sanitary pads were a sustainable choice. Women who were in the age group of 15-34 years (OR = 3.14; CI = (1.07-9.20), did not go to school (OR = 9.68; CI = 2.16-43.33), married (OR = 2.99; CI = 1.22-7.31) and previously used reusable sanitary cloth (OR = 5.82; CI = 2.33-14.55) were more likely to use the reusable sanitary cloth.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, women and girls completely depended on the use of locally available resources as adsorbents during menstruation. Immediate relief activities by humanitarian agencies, lacked MHM activities. Understanding the previous practice and using local resources, the reusable sanitary cloth is a way to address the menstrual hygiene needs in the post-disaster situations in Nepal.
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