Sandra G. Downing
Menstrual hygiene management in disasters: the concerns, needs, and preferences of women and girls in Vanuatu
In disaster settings, women and girls face additional challenges in safely managing menstruation with confidence and dignity. Assessing women’s and girls’ needs and preferences at country level prior to a disaster assists Red Cross National Societies with preparedness planning and development of local menstrual hygiene management (MHM) kits for pre-positioning. This study, conducted in Vanuatu, examined the experiences, concerns, needs, and preferences of women and girls in managing menstruation in disasters. Participants trialled one of four different sanitary products included in a MHM kit. Absorbency, security of fit, and odour were the main determinants of product acceptability. Water supply and safe disposal options influenced the preference for either reusable or disposable products. Access to sanitary products, distribution processes, water supply, and privacy were key concerns. Detailed recommendations within this paper will support the Vanuatu Red Cross in decision making and programming for MHM in disaster preparedness and response.