The Leader of Opposition and Member of Parliament for Gaborone West South, Botsalo Ntuane, has tabled a motion in parliament to “provide free sanitary pads to indigent females and learners in public schools”.
The Gaborone City Council Office of social Welfare, however, indicated that all the welfare baskets prepared for indigent females and orphans included sanitary pads as part of their monthly provision.
Ntuane, however, further stated that this was not enough and that free sanitary pads should be provided not only at public schools but also at public health centers because not all indigent persons are registered with the Department of Social Services and cannot afford sanitary pads.
Ntuane added that the lack of sanitary pads for school-going children can lead to truancy at school and can promote the use of unsafe and unhygienic material to compensate for the absence of proper sanitary tools.
Medical Research indicates that the incorrect usage of sanitary wear may cause a huge risk of infection and pelvic inflammatory diseases caused by the foreign materials, which often times carry germs with them.
Use of improper sanitary wear, such as newspapers or toilet paper is, therefore, not recommended but is often used in the absence of proper sanitary pads.
These materials are made up of pulp material and this can enter the vagina and infect the pelvic area and, to a large degree, it’s one cause for cervical cancer in selected females.
Use of newspaper or toilet paper can also cause ascending infection, candiasis or Candida, offensive vaginal discharge and sometimes burning during urination due to infection. These infections could lead to more fatal health hazards, like cervical cancer, which in the long run, according to Ntuane, will essentially cost government more to treat than it would have cost to provide the proper sanitary material from the onset.
The Department of Social Services under the Ministry of Local Government depends on the local community to communicate instances of poverty then, according to the Social Workers, they make house calls to a person and use guidelines as per the National Destitute Policy of Botswana to determine whether or not the person in question is indigent. This policy, which was first adopted in 1981 and then amended in 2008, established guidelines for “Identification, registration and support of destitute”.
In an interview, MP Ntuane concluded by stating that this move will restore and maintain the dignity of the girl child at school and in general public sphere and that he hoped that the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government, will figure out the logistics of this request and implement it as soon as possible.