Poverty is forcing thousands of girls in public primary schools in Nakuru to use unhygienic sanitary towels, leading gynaecologists in the county have warned.
They said usage of the towels could lead to infections and irreparable damage to their reproductive systems and even lead to infertility.
Dr Felix Atisa warned that some of the materials are corrosive.
“Apart from causing discomfort and disrupting their comfort in class, this usage of bad sanitary towels could lead to bacterial and fungal infection as some of them are corrosive,” said Dr Atisa.
He said that interference with the developing reproductive system of a girl aged 12 to 16 could be harmful if not treated in good time.
Some of the pupils, according to Dr Atisa, were stigmatised.
“The girls are uncomfortable and are likely to stay away from their peers and this may affect their social lives when they grow up and get married,” said Dr Atisa.
A spot check by the Nation established that the most affected schools are those in the informal settlements in the outskirts of Nakuru town.
“Some of the pupils use exercise book papers, old pieces of mattress, handkerchiefs and old clothing materials,” said a teacher in a public school in Nakuru Town East Constituency.
Another teacher said most of the affected pupils come from poor backgrounds and that had adversely affected their performance in national examinations.
“Absenteeism is chronic in public schools as girls opt to stay away rather than attend classes when they are unclean,” said a teacher in Nakuru West.
Father Peter Kamau of the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru said the church had started an initiative dubbed “Restore her Dignity” to help the girls to acquire sanitary towels.
“The girls miss classes for a whole week and this has led to increased absenteeism, which has affected their performance in class and in national examinations,” said Fr Kamau.
The first beneficiaries of the initiative were Standard Eight pupils at Hyrax Primary School in Nakuru Town East.