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MANILA, Philippines – The newly launched “Oky Philippines” period tracking and menstrual health app has been developed for Filipino girls, by Filipino girls.
Various government agencies and development organizations launched on Friday, May 26, the Oky Philippines app, highlighting the need to provide young Filipinos with accurate and reliable information about menstrual health.
Oky Philippines was developed based on Oky, a menstruation education and period tracker app developed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). The new app is a joint project of the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Health (DOH), the Commission on Population and Development (PopCom), the National Youth Commission (NYC), and Unicef, and is specialized to the context of Filipino girls.
The project team consulted with girls living with different backgrounds across the Philippines. These included indigenous peoples, out-of-school youth, and children with disabilities.
Adolescent health experts, government agencies, and development organizations vetted the results from the consultations.
The project team also partnered with the local government in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao to produce reproductive health information from an Islamic perspective.
Some core features of the app include a period tracker, an encyclopedia with information about menstrual health, and daily cards that have quizzes, mood tracking, activities, and a journal.
The app was launched ahead of Menstrual Hygiene Day, which is commemorated globally every May 28.
The app also received support from the Australian government and had Plan International as a partner.
Information for empowerment
According to the DepEd, 8 out of 10 schools provided access to sanitary pads to girls during school year 2020-2021. Schools providing menstrual products have increased since school year 2017-2018, when 6 out of 10 schools were providing them.
In a joint release from the project team, the entities noted that while it is positive that more schools are providing access to menstrual products, menstruation and sexual and reproductive health rights remain “sensitive topics” for discussion.
The team also noted the myths and misconceptions surrounding menstrual health. Some misconceptions include how it is not possible to get pregnant while on one’s period, or that a tampon will cause a girl to lose her virginity. Young girls may also stress over period symptoms, such as dysmenorrhea.
“We recognize the need of adolescent girls to access accurate information about their menstrual health and are happy to have the Oky Philippines app as a new digital platform that can help them make informed, healthy choices for themselves. Ensuring the health of our adolescents takes us one step closer to achieving a Healthy Pilipinas,” said DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire.
PopCom executive director Lisa Grace Bersales said it would promote the app in local government units and schools. “Physical changes during adolescence could be stressful but with appropriate information, young girls can be guided to ensure their hygiene and physical wellness,” she said.
Meanwhile, NYC chairperson Ronald Cardema noted that the app could serve as a “catalyst to empower girls in our country, breaking down the barriers that impede their ability to realize their full potential for personal growth, family well-being, and community development.”
Oky Philippines is available on the Google Play Store. – Rappler.com