The United Nations Reproductive Health and Rights Agency (UNFPA) and ride-hailing company SafeBoda have today in an event held at the Safe Boda Offices launched a menstrual health campaign to raise awareness around the heightened menstruation-related challenges women and girls are currently facing.

Together with partners MSI, PSI, Holic Pads, Reach A Hand Uganda, and Marie Stopes, Safe Boda stake holders did say that besides they would beef up on the already existing functionalities of the Safe Boda mobile app by adding in a slot for a ‘Personal  Health Pharmacy’ in a bid to diversify its products and services by working hand in hand with selected brands enlisted in each pharmacy on the platform.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on women and girls’ ability to manage their menstruation and their health more than ever. The pandemic-related movement restrictions, health facility closures, stock-outs and supply chain disruptions have affected access to menstrual health and other reproductive health products. “Even before the pandemic there was a need to expand access to menstrual health products. In Uganda, strong cultural taboos around menstruation and challenges in accessing affordable menstrual supplies, are some of the reasons menstruation often stands in the way of girl empowerment,” says Alain Sibenaler the UNFPA Representative.

“Access to menstrual health remains a challenge for many girls and women in Uganda. The Menstrual health campaign, through our partnership with UNFPA, MSI, PSI and Holic Pads, is an exciting opportunity to drive necessary conversations about menstrual health while empowering key audiences with faster access to menstrual products through the Personal Health Pharmacies on the SafeBoda app,” ​ says Ricky Rapa Thompson the Co-founder of SafeBoda. ​

What does this mean to the public? Well, now, women and girls have the opportunity to choose their preferred product when it comes to menstrual health on e-Pharmacy that has been freshly added to the app.

Speaking at the presser that was attended by the media, representatives from partners and staff of Safe Boda, Mrs. Joan Nagayi said that they wished to see continuity of catering for the public’s reproductive health and wellness despite the COVID-19 pandemic. She also encouraged the girls out there not to ever have to apologize or feel bad about their menstrual periods, but rather be proud and period positive, and concluded by appreciating Safe Boda for now enabling the thriving of women and girls’ personal health through enabling them access sanitary pads more conveniently.

‘Menstruation goes on for about 40 years of every woman/ girl’s life time. Every girl and woman have a stigmatizing menstrual story to tell and it’s time to end the stigma, cultural rigidity and norms, because how are we going to advocate for equality yet a girl child continues to miss three to four days of school each month due to menstruation periods?  We should focus on sanitary wear as necessity just like food and water as important. It’s high time we changed the story to normalize menstruation and that menstrual health and hygiene is a right, and that’s how the ‘My Menstrual Story’ campaign comes in, and thanks to digital platforms like SafeBoda that are here to make access and timely delivery easy, said Ms. Patricia Kathryn from Reach A Hand Uganda.​

Nabakooza Patricia who many of you might be familiar with since she was part of the original Ghetto Kids (from the ‘Sitya Loss’ music video), does happen to be the current face and ambassador of Sheebah Karungi Founded Holic Pads Company, shared her story. Growing up in a humble background, Patricia narrates that she did not have access to a modern or normal sanitary pad as those we see today. However, she says she counts herself lucky as her, like other young girls from not very stable financial backgrounds are taught by their mothers how to fold sanitary towels from sheets of clothing to use during their periods. Patricia endorsed the ‘My Menstrual Health’ campaign as it is through this that the availing and access of good menstrual care and products to the girls and young women will made easier and more convenient.

Also, from Holics Pads, the Managing Director Ms. Mariam Jjumba (representing Sheebah, the CEO) said that as a company, they are to offer 50 Free Packs of pads to all girls that will order for Holic Pads on the Safe Boda app, under the ‘E-Personal Health Pharmacy’ category of the Safe Boda App e-shop. This was also a symbol of Sheebah Karungi; the founder’s gesture of giving back to the community for her 30th birthday.

Mr. Shaqib from Safeboda said that the company is to make free deliveries on all personal health and reproductive products such as sanitary pads, and so forth, all one has to do is order them from the ‘Personal health pharamcies/ shops’ on the Safeboda app. He said that the E-shop was launched during the lock down due to the COVID-19 pandemic which had gone up to level 3, the initiative was aimed at helping peope have access to reproductive health products. And for the start; in conjunction with UNFPA, they did free condom, contraceptive pills, pregnancy test kits, HIV test kits distribution to whoever was in need of them.

How to access the ‘E-Shop Pharmacy’

The Personal Health Pharmacy can be accessed on the SafeBoda mobile Application.  To order for a menstrual health product a user has to have downloaded the SafeBoda app, place an order and pay by cash or SafeBoda credit through mobile money.

A customer is then able to quickly and privately receive the order from any Safe Boda driver within a 7-kilometer radius. To make orders for any reproductive health product, tap here.

The e-pharmacy also plans on including a Marie Stopes toll free hotline to connect customers to accurate sexual and reproductive health information if needed. With a click of a button, the Personal Health Pharmacy​ is an innovative solution to the longstanding menstrual health problem” he furthers.

The event was crowned with Safe Boda handing over their signature customized reflector to Patricia with one with her name at its back, and one for Sheebah, the Holics Pads, founder. Holic Pads also handed over ten boxes of sanitary pads to be given out for FREE to the first 50 girls to order for Holic Pads on the Safe Boda App.