The Lady Pharmacists Association of Ghana (LAPAG) has reiterated the call on government to remove the 20 per cent import tax on sanitary products to make them more affordable and accessible.
The government should also consider subsidizing these products in the interest of hygiene and health.
“Affordable menstrual health is a major public health and human rights issue, and a matter of dignity for many low-income menstruators.”
In a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, the Association said the government must create a system to allow free sanitary products for anyone who needed them, especially young girls in school.
Schools, hospitals, and other institutions must have a range of sanitary products available for free in their washrooms, particularly in rural communities.
It said government must ensure a positive and supportive environment that allowed menstruating girls and women to participate in all aspects of life and employ zero tolerance to dirty jokes about menstruation.
It said government must also ensure effective reproductive health education with focus on puberty and menstruation to boys and girls at schools to destigmatize menstruation and ensure improved sanitation infrastructure like hand wash facility, disposal mechanisms, and privacy.
“In Ghana, it is documented that many adolescent girls stay out of school during their menses due to lack of sanitary pads, and lack of basic sanitation facilities to meet their privacy requirements.”
According to recent report by UNICEF, about 95 per cent of girls in rural communities in Ghana miss around 20 per cent of their school hours due to lack of access to sanitary pads.
The statement indicated that, many young girls and adolescents who menstruated were forced to use inadequate materials to build makeshift products or use period products for a prolonged time which increased the chance of reproductive and urinary tract infections among other harmful outcomes.
Odours and leakages become a challenge for schoolgirls, these negative experiences of menstruating can lead to low self-esteem, discomfort, distraction, absenteeism, and school dropouts, the statement said.
It said addressing these issues and ensuring that menstrual hygiene products were considered essential could help improve the health and well-being of girls and women in Ghana and beyond.
LAPAG applauded activists and political leaders, governments, NGOs, donor agencies, who are increasingly devising policies to make sanitary products more accessible, not only through tax reduction, but also other measures such as subsidies or free distribution.