Third year Nursing students' working bee sewing for FijiCreative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license 4.0 International by Otago Polytechnic

Sustainable hygiene

A Fijian village will benefit from a supply of reusable sanitary hygiene products from our students.

A team of eight of our third year Nursing students focussed on the community of Nasovotava in Fiji for their primary health clinical project/placement. They carried out a Community Assessment Profile in conjunction with community stakeholder Eric Nabalagi, who comes from Nasovotava and has lived in Dunedin for the past 20 years. Health needs identified included lack of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, poor access to medications and hygiene supplies, and low levels of health literacy. With Eric's endorsement, the team decided to act on improving women’s health through providing a health promotion resource for them.

Lack of access to sustainable period products in rural areas is important because of limited waste disposal facilities for single use products. And if they are unable to manage menstruation well, girls and women are likely to limit their participation in community life. To meet this need for sustainable period products, the Nursing students found patterns, materials and instructions to make the products, sourcing suitable materials from the wider Otago Polytechnic student community. A working bee was held on our campus on 19 May 2022, for team members to cut and sew together.

The finished products are being delivered to the Nasovotava community now, together with posters to improve health literacy and supplies for the dispensary. The Nasovotava community has approximately 250 people, and an estimated 80-100 women will benefit from the student’s work. As well as being supplied 500 completed items, residents will be provided with patterns and instructions to make and use the products. The product life expectancy is up to six years with proper care and cleaning.