Bihar is taking its women’s health seriously. In a move to popularize and raise awareness about menstrual health and hygiene among the women, Bihar will provide sanitary napkins at a nominal cost in rural areas of its 10 districts. This initiative is under the Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health (ARSH) scheme a part of the National Rural Health Mission. A bundle of five packs of sanitary napkins at Rs.6 each will be given to women in rural areas of 10 districts.
The scheme is soon to be launched in Vaishali, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Kaimur, Bhojpur, Buxar, Saran, Darbhanga, Munger and Gaya districts. In Vaishali, the napkins would be manufactured by a self-help group, while in other districts these would be produced by Hindustan Latex Limited, the country’s largest producer of condoms.
Majority of adolescent girls in rural areas are unaware about the means to deal with menstruation, which is linked with several misconceptions and practices that result in adverse social and health outcomes. Studies show that only two percent of women in rural India use sanitary napkins. Majority of them use cloth which is washed and often stored in humid conditions (so that it is not seen by others), resulting in repeated infections. Poor availability of sanitary napkins in rural areas is also a big issue, as companies making them do not supply them in good amount due to lack of demand.