Tana River menstrual health activist wins Florence Nightingale medal

Ms Milcah Hadida training girls on menstrual hygiene.  She has received the prestigious Florence Nightingale Medal for her efforts in fighting period poverty.

Photo credit: Stephen Oduor | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Ms Hadida rides on a bicycle to distribute sanitary towels to vulnerable girls in communities around the Tana River County.
  • Her five-month efforts have seen her reach 2,300 girls.

Tana River menstrual hygiene ambassador Milcah Hadida, has received the prestigious Florence Nightingale Medal for her efforts in fighting period poverty.

The Kenya Red Cross volunteer, was among 25 other health workers and volunteers nominated globally by the Red Crescent Society for the award. The selection was done by a commission comprised of the International Council of Nurses, International Federation of Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Ms Hadida runs a campaign geared towards collecting sanitary towels from well-wishers then riding on a bicycle to distribute them to vulnerable girls in communities around the county.

Her five-month efforts have seen her reach 2,300 girls with in the county that hit media headlines with a sad story on period poverty in May, last year.

In an interview with the nation.africa, a delighted Ms Hadida said the award was sentimental in the war against period poverty in the country.

"I can assure you this will inspire more activists to join in this crisis our girls are facing, especially in the marginalised areas," she said.

The ambassador noted that more than 5,000 girls in the county faced a sanitary towels crisis and were hence, in need.

She reiterated that the government's effort to distribute pads in school was not sufficient as the students were sharing the same items with their siblings at home.

"Government may budget for one child, but the same sanitary towels you give a child are used back at home by the mother, siblings and even relatives, since they can't afford to buy them," she said.

Period poverty

She appealed to organisations and well-wishers to support her quest with more sanitary towels as well as logistics to reach flanked areas of the county.

"The furthest I can go with my bicycle is 30km a day and I can only carry six boxes. If I can get a van or pick-up, then I will reach so many," she said.

She urged other gender-based activists to incorporate period poverty in their agenda to end the menstrual shame in the county.

Further, she urged the county administration department of health to come up with tight policies towards ending period poverty.

Ms Hadida is the only Kenyan among 25 outstanding nurses and nursing aides from 18 countries who received the award this year.

The Florence Nightingale medal recognises exemplary service or pioneering spirit in the areas of public health and nursing education.

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