In a bid to help adolescent girls living in slums, the Delhi government’s department of health will provide a pack of sanitary napkins to 50,000 girls per month at subsidised rates. The ‘Menstrual Hygiene Scheme’, an initiative by the central government, will be implemented for the first time in Delhi next month.
The scheme will focus on ensuring safe disposal of sanitary napkins, improving access to high quality sanitary napkins in rural areas, and providing funds to Asha workers to hold monthly meetings with girls to discuss issues related to menstrual hygiene.
Girls studying in Delhi government schools are already provided sanitary napkins by the department of education (DoE) free of cost. Hence, the upcoming scheme will cater to out-of-school girls.
“The aim of the scheme is to spread awareness among girls who are not able to go to school due to certain circumstances. A pack of six napkins at a cost of Rs 6 will be offered to girls coming to anganwadi centres,” said Dr Nutan Mundeja, director, Delhi State Health Mission.
The funds are provided to states and union territories through the National Health Mission (NHM) for decentralised procurement of sanitary napkin packs at subsidised rates.
“A range of information, education and communication (IEC) material has been developed around the scheme, to create awareness among girls about safe and hygienic menstrual health practices. These include audio, video and reading materials for girls and job aids for Asha workers and other functionaries to communicate with the girls,” said Dr Mundeja.
An ongoing survey by NGO Sacchi Saheli at a paper market near Ghazipur has found that most girls in the area have no awareness of menstrual hygiene.
“We have visited 30 jhuggis so far and the initial trend shows people are not aware,” said Dr Surbhi Singh, a gynaecologist and founder of the NGO. A similar scheme was implemented in Daman last year, which Dr Singh was a part of.
“The model was implemented by the Daman government in November last year, and a pack containing a sanitary napkin, paper soap and rough paper was distributed to girls. The programme was highly appreciated and many girls came forward to collect it,” said Singh.