Context: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has brought a scheme for promoting menstrual hygiene amongst adolescent girls in the age group of 10-19 yr in rural areas.
- To increase consciousness amongst adolescent Females on Menstrual Hygiene
- To increase access to and use of high quality sanitary napkins to adolescent girls in rural areas.
- To ensure safe disposal of Sanitary Napkins in an environmentally pleasant manner.
Features of the Scheme
- The scheme was initially implemented in 2011 in 107 selected districts in 17 States in which a pack of six sanitary napkins called “Free Days” was made available to rural adolescent girls for Rs. 6.
- From 2014 onwards, funds are now being provided to States/UTs under National Health Mission for decentralised procurement of sanitary napkins packs for provision to rural adolescent ladies at a backed fee of Rs 6 for a Pack of 6 napkins.
- The ASHA will remain responsible for distribution, receiving an incentive @ Rs 1 per pack sold and a free pack of napkins each month for her own personal use.
- The ASHA will convene month-to-month meetings at the Anganwadi Centres or different such platforms for adolescent girls to cognize on the problem of menstrual hygiene and also serve as a platform to discuss different relevant SRH issues.
- A variety of IEC material has been evolved around MHS, using a 360 degree approach to create attention amongst adolescent girls about secure & hygienic menstrual health practices which includes audio, video and studying materials for adolescent girls and job-aids for ASHAs and other field level functionaries for speaking with adolescent girls.
Menstrual Hygiene Conditions in India :
- A survey conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2018-19 reported that more than 1/4th of total girls enrolled in class VI-VIII drop out of school as soon as they hit puberty.
- The experience of menstruation for young girls is even more difficult due to inconsistent access to education on menstrual health and puberty.
- As per UNESCO, the lack of menstrual hygiene education in India is impacting 23 million girls dropping out of school.
Data by Fifth National Family Health Survey-5:
- 17 states and Union Territories (UTs) had 90% or more women using period products; with 99% in Puducherry and the Andaman and Nicobar Island
- Tripura, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar – had 70% or less women using period products.
- Bihar reported a figure lower than 60%.
- There has been a rise in the percentage of women using period products from NFHS-4 to NFHS-5, with Bihar reporting a growth of 90%, followed by Odisha 72% & Madhya Pradesh- 61%.
- However, menstrual health cannot be achieved only through governmental schemes without involvement of the masses at each level.
- Menstrual Hygiene issue is a social issue more than a health issue , requiring interventions at societal, community and familial level. Hence, creating awareness about Menstrual Health on ground Level is the need of the hour.