Evaluation of a menstrual hygiene intervention in urban and rural schools in Bangladesh: a pilot study

Case Studies & Research
p. 1-16
Periodical title
BMC Public Health, 22, 1100 (2022)

We conducted a pilot study to assess the acceptability and feasibility of a multi-component intervention intended to support menstruating girls; improve menstrual care knowledge, practices, and comfort; and increase school attendance. We conducted a pre/post evaluation of a 6-month pilot intervention in four schools (2 urban, 2 rural) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We selected 527 schoolgirls (grades 5 to 10; aged 10 to 17 years) for a baseline survey and 528 girls at endline. The intervention included: 1) Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) packs– reusable cloth pads, underwear, carry bags and menstrual cycle tracking calendars, 2) education curriculum- pictorial flipcharts, puberty related-booklets, and teachers’ training to deliver puberty and MHM sessions, 3) maintenance- improvements to school sanitation, provision of disposable pads in the school office, provision of chute disposal systems for disposable pads, and gender committees to promote a gender-friendly school environment and maintenance of intervention facilities. We estimated intervention uptake and intervention effect by calculating prevalence differences and 95% confidence intervals using fixed-effects logistic regression. The intervention uptake was more than 85% for most indicators; 100% reported receiving puberty education, 85% received MHM packs, and 92% received booklets. Reusable cloth pads uptake was 34% by endline compared with 0% at baseline. Knowledge about menstrual physiology and knowledge of recommended menstrual management practices significantly improved from baseline to endline. Reported improvements included more frequent changing of menstrual materials (4.2 times/day at endline vs. 3.4 times/day at baseline), increased use of recommended disposal methods (prevalence difference (PD): 8%; 95% Confidence Interval: 1, 14), and fewer staining incidents (PD: − 12%; 95% CI: − 22, − 1). More girls reported being satisfied with their menstrual materials (59% at endline vs. 46% at baseline, p < 0.005) and thought school facilities were adequate for menstrual management at endline compared to baseline (54% vs. 8%, p < 0.001). At endline, 64% girls disagreed/strongly disagreed that they felt anxious at school due to menstruation, compared to 33% at baseline (p < 0.001). Sixty-five percent girls disagreed/strongly disagreed about feeling distracted or trouble concentrating in class at endline, compared to 41% at baseline (p < 0.001). Self-reported absences decreased slightly (PD: − 8%; 95% CI: − 14, − 2). Uptake of cloth pads, improved maintenance and disposal of menstrual materials, and reduced anxiety at school suggest acceptability and feasibility of the intervention aiming to create a supportive school environment.

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