Union health ministry on Wednesday said that rural young girls will be provided with sanitary napkins at Re. 1 per pack to promote menstrual hygiene in the country.
The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was launched in 2005, which make healthcare facilities available in rural areas at affordable prices and ministry has approved Rs 150 crore for promoting this scheme under NRHM.
A ministry official stated that young girls below poverty line will be supplied with sanitary napkins at Re. 1 per pack in rural areas and girls living above poverty line have to pay Rs5 per packet.
Ministry has identified 235 districts which will be covered under this scheme and workers will be recruited in these 'focus districts'.
There would be three phases of this scheme.
In the first phase, this means in the first year of this scheme, 150 districts will be covered which means 25% of the country will be covered. Among 150 districts, 30 districts will be from the four southern states, Maharashtra and Gujarat, and the remaining 120 districts will be in the northern, central and north-eastern states. It is estimated that in first year approx 1.5 crores girls will be covered and about 30% of them will be below poverty line.
Officials said that it is suggested that 30 districts in southern states, Maharashtra and Gujarat could start self-help groups whereas for 100 districts in central, northern and north-eastern states need to depend upon the manufacturers of sanitary napkins through a competitive bidding process because self-help groups are not popular in these areas.
The scheme was announced in a meeting the Mission Steering Group of the NRHM chaired by Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Other officials who attend the meeting are Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, Rural Development Minister C. P. Joshi and Planning Commission Deputy Chaiman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) is also approached by the central government for the distribution of sanitary napkins with an incentive of Re. 1 for every pack they distribute.
The central government has given state government an option of involving ASHA in the scheme or they are free to choose any other method of distribution.
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