With the Zimbabwean economy stuttering and the lockdown biting a lot of households have had to for go many items that were deemed essentials in yester-years. One item that seems to be now priced beyond the reach of many are sanitary pads and other menstrual health products. This used to be a rural issue with some girls in rural areas now reportdly using cow dung and leaves but now with the current economic meltdown it’s now also a problem even in urban areas.
In our recent price survey we noticed that sanitary pads were going for around $120 ZWL for a pack of 8 for the cheapest brands. Brands and variations made for heavy flow were much more expensive with some brands going for as high as $180 ZWL for a pack of 10. To say this is beyond the reach of an average teenage girl is an understatement. A lot of women even those working will have a hard time affording them.
Enter MSF and their free menstrual cups
Yesterday Doctors Without Borders (MSF) were in Matapi Mbare were they were teaching youths about the importance of good menstrual hygiene. As part of their outreach they were dispensing free menstrual cups to adolescent girls. To be honest prior to this exercise we had heard of menstrual cups but not actually seen one and we think they will be a game changer if they are more widely adopted in Zimbabwe.
As already said most girls use what they can including bits of cloth and for those few who can afford them, tampons and sanitary pads. The last two have the disadvantage that they are often one use items. Bits of cloth meanwhile are often unsanitary and hard to wash with the efficacy dependant on the nature of the fabric used.
Menstrual cups are different:
A menstrual cup is a small, flexible cup is made of silicone or latex rubber. Instead of absorbing your flow, like a tampon or pad, it catches and collects it.WebMD
They can be used multiple times, are cheap if one can find where to buy them, easy to wash and easy to use. You just empty, wash with soap and water, and replace. At the end of your cycle, you can sterilise your cup in boiling water.
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