GOVERNMENT agencies and development organizations have called for better measures to provide young Filipino women with accurate and trustworthy information about menstrual health during the nationwide launch of the Oky Philippines Period Tracker App, an app made for and by Filipino girls.

The app was launched in time for the global Menstrual Hygiene Day, observed every May 28, through the partnership of the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) and National Youth Commission (NYC), with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), Australian Government and Plan International.

The event, “Oky for you, Oky for Me: Say hello to the period tracker app for Filipino girls, by Filipino girls,” tackled issues about menstrual health and hygiene management and featured demonstrations of the easy-to-use app.

According to the DepEd, eight out of 10 schools provided access to sanitary pads to girls during School Year 2020-2021-- a marked increase from 2017-2018, when only 60 percent of schools provided menstrual-hygiene products.

While the improved access of the said items in schools is remarkable, menstruation and sexual reproductive health rights remain sensitive topics for discussion.

More concerning is that myths and misconceptions about menstrual health proliferate on social media -- hindering girls’ access to important information critical to understanding their right to reproductive health.

The Oky Philippines app was developed based on Oky, the world’s first menstruation education and period tracker app co-created by Unicef with girls, for girls.

The app, supported by the Australian Government, is a joint product of DepEd, DOH, Popcom, NYC and Unicef Philippines, in partnership with Plan International.

In localizing the app, the team consulted with girls living in different contexts in the Philippines, including indigenous peoples, out-of-school children and children with disabilities.

The results from the talks underwent vetting by adolescent health experts from government agencies and development organizations. Oky Philippines also includes content relevant to the Islamic culture, co-created with adolescents from the Bangsamoro Region.

The Oky Philippines is a new platform for adolescents, which will be deployed through existing government programs such as DepEd’s Comprehensive Sexual Education, the “WASH in Schools” programs and the joint campaign “I CHOOSE #MalayaAkongMaging” led by the DOH and Popcom.

Sexual reproductive health is one of the seven priority areas of the DOH campaign: “Health is Life,” which focuses on health promotion to improve health outcomes.

The Oky app is also consistent with NYC’s Philippine Youth Development Plan for Health.

The Australian Government said it supports the localization of the app in the Philippines as part of its AUD$48 million Indo-Pacific Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Covid-19 Surge Response. The program supports the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Oky Philippines is free to download from Google Play Store. The app is available in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.