Female reproductive health issues need more attention
First, let me applaud the health minister, Dr Christopher Tufton and the Jamaica Moves Initiative for the work that they have been doing to bring more awareness about the unhealthy practices that we have adopted and how they are adversely affecting our health.
But I do want to bring to the attention of the minister and his team a growing demographic that seems to be left out of the overall health plan: women.
I'm talking directly about female reproductive health issues like fibroids; endometriosis; polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility; and heavy, painful periods.
The bottom line is that it's very expensive to be a woman in this society, and we are doing it while earning less than our male counterparts.
Even for the necessities like menstrual products, we have to shell out hundreds of dollars each month just so that we can function while having a period.
And what about the women and girls who cannot afford the products? Period poverty is an issue that countries around the world - including Jamaica - are dealing with.
UNABLE TO AFFORD LUNCH
While I don't have the actual stats on how many women and girls in Jamaica are affected, if we use the school feeding programme as a guide, I can estimate that almost 100,000 girls on this programme are unable to afford lunch.
The way I see it, if she can't buy lunch, then she can't afford the sanitary products she needs when she's menstruating.
Scotland recently announced that it would be making sanitary products free in state schools, making it the first country to do so.
We are more than capable of addressing this in Jamaica. We have done so before with other issues, for example the spread of HIV/AIDS.
We have made condoms available in thousands of locations across the country and have even been talking about putting them in schools to help young people reduce the number HIV and STD infections. I think this is important.
I also think that as a policy, we must look at eradicating period poverty as well because while sex is a choice, your period is not.
We cannot continue to ignore the issues that affect women and girls and expect to meet the goals that we have set for ourselves as a nation. When we empower women, we empower our communities.