Develop a sustainable method to improve the menstrual experience for women and girls in the Peruvian Amazon in order to improve community health and promote socioeconomic opportunities within the communities.
Within isolated Amazonian communities, as in many parts of the world, menstruation often prevents women and girls from engaging in everyday activities. In particular, stigma around menstruation and the inability to manage blood flow restrict involvement in the community and education for women and girls. Lack of knowledge on women’s health is a significant barrier to improving the menstrual experience. Since this project is very community-based, we are continually incorporating cultural considerations and community input throughout our design process - including views on women’s health and menstruation, comfort levels about the subject, and any environmental impact(s) our solution could have.
Project MADITA became an official M-HEAL project team in July of 2019 and is in the early stages of development. Currently, we have solidified our project’s mission, need statement, faculty advisors, and community partners. We are in the process of expanding our preliminary knowledge of menstrual health, benchmarking current menstrual health efforts, building our team, and planning a return trip to the Amazon in spring or summer of 2020. Concept generating and low fidelity prototyping will begin in the early months of 2020.
During Spring Break 2018, M-HEAL’s SANA group conducted a needs assessment in the Peruvian Amazon. We toured medical clinics and visited with local families. We held informational interviews as well as casual conversations with the Peruvian people, and we recorded our observations. Throughout the week, we learned about the systemic and general healthcare challenges within the communities, involving water-borne illnesses, lack of nutrition, and inconsistent, quality education. Our exploration was broad. Upon our return, we organized our trip notes, took a closer look at each topic, and after weighing out what was the most realistic, we decided to focus on women’s health and hygiene. Also, during the time, we were connected with Dana Rensi, someone who works very closely with the Amazonian communities in handing out menstrual kits. Our focused needs statement fell into place.
Devon Graham, Dana Rensi, & Don Dean
Mentors & Advisors
Dr. Joanne Bailey & Dr. Sioban Harlow
Soneida Rodriguez (Not Pictured)