Knowledge, attitudes and barriers to utilization of reusable sanitary pads by primary school girls aged 9-19 years in Mubende district
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Background: In Mubende District, there are a lot of challenges to the Primary School girls in access and affordability of menstrual hygiene products. This includes lack of proper sanitation infrastructure both in Schools and at homes yet some of the few present are in really poor condition with no doors or the women and girls have to share the facilities with men and boys coupled up with insufficient knowledge of menstrual hygiene management. This is indeed a worrying situation if not handled well may have a lot of other implications. The aim of this study was to assess the knowledge, attitudes and barriers to utilization of reusable pads among the Primary School girls in Mubende District in order to generate information that can be useful in developing targeted interventions to encourage and improve the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)in the country. Methods: This was a qualitative and quantitative study conducted in 8 Schools in rural areas of Mubende District. A total of 396 semi-structured questionnaires were filled by Primary School girls aged 9-19 and 15 key informant interview guides among senior lady teachers, local leaders and School heads. Quantitative data was entered in Epidata 3.0, analyzed using STATA and presented into tables, figures and notes. Qualitative data was analyzed manually and presented in texts. Results: Majority 360 (90.9%) had ever heard of reusable menstrual pads as Schools were the major 283 (78.6) source of information followed by 65 (18.1%) family members. Less than a third 114 (28.8%) knew how reusable pads are made. Majority 270 (68.2%) reported a bad feeling about exposing their reusable pads for drying in the area that is not their home while 126 (31.8%) reported it being okay with them. More than half 216 (54.5%) were okay with frequent change of reusable pads. Majority 351 (88.6%) of the girls never missed School due to their use of reusable menstrual pads as 40 (10.1%) reported missing School once or twice per menstrual cycle. Girls were using menstrual pads during their menstruation though majority of them were using disposable pads. It was found out that they were using the different kinds of reusable materials like mattresses, clothes, towels, cotton and menstrual cups. Conclusion: Girls in Mubende should rely on cheap reusable cloth pads which have to be washed, dried, and used again and their having less plastic content and chemicals. In addition, they should change their attitude and perception towards reusable menstrual materials.