Piloting an acceptable and feasible menstrual hygiene products disposal system in urban and rural schools in Bangladesh

Farjana Jahan, Md Nuruzzaman, Farhana Sultana, Mehjabin Tishan Mahfuz, Mahbubur Rahman, Farhana Akhand, Stephen P. Luby, Leanne Unicomb, Peter J. Winch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Access to washroom facilities and a place to dispose of menstrual waste are prerequisites for optimal menstrual hygiene management in schools. Like other low- and middle-income countries, Bangladeshi schools lack facilities for girls to change and dispose of their menstrual absorbents. We explored existing systems for disposing of menstrual absorbent wastes in urban and rural schools of Bangladesh and assessed the feasibility and acceptability of alternative disposal options. Methods: We explored how girls dispose of their menstrual products, identified girls' preferences and choices for a disposal system and piloted four disposal options in four different schools. We then implemented one preferred option in four additional schools. We explored girls', teachers', and janitors' perspectives and evaluated the acceptability, feasibility, and potential for sustainability of the piloted disposal system. Results: Barriers to optimal menstrual hygiene management included lack of functional toilets and private locations for changing menstrual products, and limited options for disposal. Girls, teachers, and janitors preferred and ranked the chute disposal system as their first choice, because it has large capacity (765 L), is relatively durable, requires less maintenance, and will take longer time to fill. During implementation of the chute disposal system in four schools, girls, teachers, and janitors reported positive changes in toilet cleanliness and menstrual products disposal resulting from the intervention. Conclusions: The chute disposal system for menstrual products is a durable option that does not require frequent emptying or regular maintenance, and is accepted by schoolgirls and janitors alike, and can improve conditions for menstrual hygiene management in schools. However, regular supervision, motivation of girls to correctly dispose of their products, and a long-term maintenance and management plan for the system are necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1366
JournalBMC public health
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 7 2020

Keywords

  • Hygiene
  • Menstrual hygiene products
  • Menstruation
  • School dropout
  • School enrollment
  • Schoolgirls
  • Solid waste
  • Toilet facilities
  • Waste disposal facilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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