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MoHFW guidelines to states – Sanitary napkins’ provision are part of essential services & relief supplies: Official

Ministry supporting states in distributing napkins at a time for at least 2-3 months; activity restricted to areas outside containment zones

 The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has issued guidelines to all states that sanitary napkins’ provision are part of the essential services and relief supplies and this has to be covered by Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) during the outreach services, a top official said during an ASSOCHAM webinar on ‘Menstrual Health & Hygiene Management during COVID-19’.

“In fact we have gone a step further and we have said that whenever the ASHA and ANM are going for the outreach activities within the communities, they can actually distribute napkins not for one month but we are trying to support states in giving at least at one time for at least two-three months, so that girls do not worry about the next month,” said Dr Zoya Ali Rizvi, deputy commissioner, Adolescent & Child Health Division, MoHFW during the webinar organised by ASSOCHAM on the occasion of World Menstrual Hygiene Day.

Dr Zoya however cleared that such interventions as of now are limited only outside the containment zone as activities inside such zones are bit restricted because of the risk to the healthcare personnel. “The whole idea is that when a woman comes to the health centre she is not refused for any services be it for sanitary napkins, vaccination, antenatal care or any kind of testing also. That mandate has been shared with states and they are fully on line,” she said.

She also said that support of NGO partners, civil society organisations, CSR funds of private organisations are critical for menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and also help strengthen, supplement government programs in this field.Dr Zoya informed, “We are also promoting e-commerce platforms, most of our procurement at state level is also taking part through e-commerce platforms so that more and more smaller and medium level enterprises are enrolling in to that so no couple of companies have the monopoly and ensure that more and more people invest their money, time and energy in to MHM.”

She further said that various Ministries are working towards ensuring good and adequate MHM in their own spheres of activities. “MoHFW along with Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS), Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) is working in tandem in their own fields.”

 

Talking about the budgetary allocation, she said, “In MoHFW, the budgetary allocation for procurement of sanitary napkins has gone up gradually, last year we gave about Rs 65 crore, this year we are giving more than Rs 64 crore, so states are out there who are procuring in a decentralised fashion sanitary napkins for their own beneficiaries and as the uptake of sanitary napkins’ distribution through the ASHA mechanism, support by the ANM and the medical officers increases, this budgetary allocation and capacity building will increase gradually.”

 

In her address, Chetna Soni, Category Leader – Feminine Care, P&G Indian sub-continent said “It was great coming together at the ASSOCHAM Menstrual Hygiene Day webinar with stakeholders who are as passionate about ensuring 100 per cent menstrual hygiene in India as us. It was a privilege to share with the fraternity our latest movement launched earlier this year, Whisper’s #KeepGirlsInSchool, as well as our new initiative ‘Mobileshaala’-  a free phone based learning platform for girls in need, which includes key subjects including a curated period education module.”

In her address during the ASSOCHAM webinar, Pratibha Singh, WASH in institutions specialist, UNICEF impressed upon the need for training frontline workers and staffs on handling MHM during emergencies.

 

About ASSOCHAM:

ASSOCHAM initiated its endeavour of value creation for Indian industry in 1920. It was established by promoter Chambers, representing all regions of India. Having in its fold over 400 Chambers and Trade Associations, and serving over 4.5 lakh members across India. ASSOCHAM has emerged as the fountainhead of Knowledge for Indian industry, which is all set to redefine the dynamics of growth and development in the Knowledge Based Economy. More information available on www.assocham.org

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