The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has issued new guidelines for the safe production of quality and reusable sanitary towels in a bid to boost production.
In a statement, Esther Ngari, Kebs Director for Standards Development and Trade, said the Kenya Standard – KS 2925:2020 Reusable sanitary towels Specification, is a first edition guideline whose objective is to offer quality and affordable reusable sanitary pads.
She said this was especially for women and girls in low income areas who are forced to use clothes or other unhygienic materials or for students forced to stay at home during menstrual cycles.
“The standard will address issues around performance of multiple-use sanitary pads by outlining absorbency requirements, fastening mechanism so that they do not move out of position, comfort and feel, skin sensitivity and odour, materials, care and user instruction for awareness,” she said.
According to Ms Ngari, the standard however retains the desired features of reusable pads including no leakage, no chafing, comfortable to wear, good fit, stay in place, no odour, no noise, no humidity, high level of hygiene and easy to use.
According to the Menstrual Hygiene Policy launched by the health ministry in May 2020, 58 per cent of girls in rural areas and 53 per cent of girls in urban areas are unable to afford sanitary pads.
The new standard provides a healthy alternative to disposable sanitary pads especially for women and girls who face social issues such as stigma and missing school due to lack of access to safe and hygienic menstrual products.
This is also a progressive measure to reduce the use of disposable sanitary pads which are an environmental burden.
An initiative by the government to provide sanitary towels to school girls is yet to fully have an impact with many still reporting that sanitary protection remains unavailable and unaffordable.
In 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law a Bill to amend the Basic Education Act mandating the government to provide free, sanitary towels to every girl registered and enrolled in a public basic education institution and has reached puberty.
Education CS George Magoha last year admitted the government scheme did not meet its target.
“Last year, money was provided by the government to provide sanitary pads. From a random sampling of children, the reports are they are yet to get the pads,” Prof Magoha said then.
A growing number of NGOs have opted to supplement the government’s efforts by providing sanitary towels and menstrual cups and creating awareness on menstrual health management.