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.

Primary Objectives:

  1. To increase consciousness amongst adolescent Females on Menstrual Hygiene 
  2. To increase access to and use of high quality sanitary napkins to adolescent girls in rural areas. 
  3. To ensure safe disposal of Sanitary Napkins in an environmentally pleasant manner. 

Features of the Scheme

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5.  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 :

  1. 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. 
  2. The experience of menstruation for young girls is even more difficult due to inconsistent access to education on menstrual health and puberty. 
  3. 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:

  1. 17 states and Union Territories (UTs) had 90% or more women using period products; with 99% in Puducherry and the Andaman and Nicobar Island
  2. Tripura, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar – had 70% or less women using period products. 
  3. Bihar reported a figure lower than 60%.
  4. 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%.

Way Forward:

  • 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.