A pilot programme on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) for schools in the Central Province was held recently. Sri Lanka Water Partnership (SLWP) and NetWwater (Network of Women Water Professionals), a partner of Global Water Partnership, have been working in school awareness programmes through SisuJalaHamuwa for over 10 years. They advocate that sustainable sanitation, which goes beyond the provision of facilities, calls for a change in sanitation culture where hygiene awareness, maintenance and regular cleansing systems must be in place along with upgraded facilities. With the support of CSR partners (such as NDB) and provincial education authorities, SLWP and NetWwater have worked to improve school children's health through sustainable sanitation.
A study of school sanitation in the Central Province highlighted the need for a menstrual hygiene management programme to support improved health for girl children and reduce absenteeism among adolescent girls. It was decided to focus on the Denuwara school zone, mainly due to the interest and support of provincial school education authorities there. The MHM advocacy activity was first supported by NDB bank with a workshop held in Giragama Training Centre, Kandy for teacher counselors to celebrate World Menstrual Hygiene Day. 56 school teacher counselors, all women, and 7 other resource persons from the Denuwara School in the Kandy District attended. International MHM Day 2018 was celebrated at Katugastota Balika Vidyalaya.
The Provincial Educat ion Department and Provincial Health Department are supportive of expanding this activity throughout the Central Province. SLWP and NetWwater plan an advocacy campaign to; build awareness among school authorities in the entire Province on MHM-related issues, stop the inappropriate disposal of sanitation napkins (a major cause of toilet blockage in schools) by developing a girl-friendly toilet, support improved health for girl children while reducing absenteeism among adolescent girls, and improve reproductive health awareness. This activity is also supported by the National Council of Women (NCW) who have conducted a study on reproductive health and wish to input their findings into the school curriculum.