New Delhi: Adolescent girls in rural areas will soon be able to buy sanitary napkins at a low rate under a new government scheme to ensure easy access in villages for promotion of safe and hygienic practices.
The project is expected to benefit 1.5 crore girls in 20 states in the first phase. The napkins are expected to be made available with health workers from the first week of August, a Health Ministry official said.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has approved the scheme as part of promotion of menstrual hygiene among girls in the age group of 10-19 years in rural areas.
The girls will be provided a pack of six napkins under National Rural Health Mission`s brand `Freedays`, the official said. These will be sold to adolescent girls at a rate of Rs six for a pack of six napkins -- Re one per piece -- in the villages by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs).
This scheme is aimed at ensuring that adolescent girls in rural areas have adequate knowledge and information about menstrual hygiene and use of sanitary napkins.
In the first phase, the scheme will cover 25 percent of the population -- 1.5 crore girls -- in the age group of 10-19 years in 152 districts of 20 states.
It is expected that with making sanitary napkins available at the village level, their usage will increase, the official said adding, easy access and convenient pricing are the strategies adopted by the Ministry for increasing safe and hygienic practices during menstruation.
The ASHAs will get an incentive of Re one on sale of each pack, besides a free pack of sanitary napkins per month.
Evidence suggests that lack of access to menstrual hygiene (which includes sanitary napkins, toilets in schools, availability of water, privacy and safe disposal) could contribute to local infections including reproductive tract infections (RTI).
Studies have shown that RTIs are closely interrelated with poor menstrual hygiene and pose grave threat to women`s lives, livelihood, and education.
Services for the prevention and treatment of RTI and sexually transmitted infections are integral part of the Reproductive Child Health II Programme (RCH II).
With specific reference to ensuring better menstrual health and hygiene for adolescent girls, government is launching this scheme as part of the Adolescent Reproductive Sexual Health (ARSH) in RCH-II, the official said.