Sanitary napkin to rural women at just rupee 1

Health Ministry scheme to cover over 20 crore villagers: Azad
Last Updated : 21 February 2010, 17:05 IST

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The Union health ministry is giving final touches to a new intervention programme in which sanitary napkins will be provided to village women through a highly subsidised scheme so that young adolescent girls and middle-aged women can reduce the chances of reproductive tract infections during menstrual cycles.
Most of the key components of the programme is likely to be finalised by the ministry next week after a technical meeting, sources said.

The scheme envisages covering 20 crore rural women, each using 100 sanitary napkins. Assuming each napkin costs Re 1, the programme would require Rs 2,000 crore.
“India has to learn to look after its girls better if it has to pursue its inclusive agenda of social development. There is a need to provide dignity and care in the process of growing up,” Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said here on Saturday.
The ministry is working on various models, including private-public partnership and roping in a sponsor, to ensure that sanitary napkin is given free to girls below the poverty line and at a subsidized cost to other women in a village.

Lack of awareness
“In the absence of sanitary napkins, rural women are forced to used gunny bags, sand, ash and even plastics. There is simply no awareness on health and hygiene issues,” said Angshu Gupta from Goonj, a non-governmental organisation that supplies sanitary napkins to a handful of villages in 21 states.
Goonj supplied 7,000-8,000 napkins, made out of cloth, to villagers through its network. “Making those napkins are doable as it does not require a manufacturing unit. Also we promote reuse,” he told Deccan Herald.

Disposal of these napkins are not an issue as they are bio-degradable. However, there is an environmental risk to commercial napkins because of their plastic cover. Transportation is another big issue for the NGO sector, which the government was looking into. “The government is in the process of developing an even stronger thrust on feminine health and hygiene and is finalising an intervention to take care of adolescent girls’ sexual and reproductive health needs,” Azad added.
DH News Service

Published 21 February 2010, 17:05 IST

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