Sanitary napkin scheme for rural poor to roll out soon
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To boost female health in rural India, the Union Health Ministry has okayed a scheme to provide sanitary napkins at "highly subsidised" rates to Below Poverty Line (BPL) girls in the age group of 10 years to 19 years.
The scheme will be rolled out in 150 districts out of the total 600 districts that will be covered under Phase I.
Of the 150 districts, 30 districts that will be covered in the first year include four southern states, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The rest of the districts are in the northern, central and the Northeastern states.
A Mission Steering Group of National Rural Health Mission, comprising Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad; deputy chairman, Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia; HRD Minister Kapil Sibal; and Minister for Rural Development CP Joshi, met on Tuesday and cleared the Rs 150 crore-scheme.
The programme will be implemented through the state and district levels. The final delivery point for a girl will be through Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) or school teachers. The government has estimated that each month, ASHA will procure 70 packs of sanitary napkins at the rate of Rs 4 per pack for sale to Above Poverty Line girls and 30 packs free for sale to BPL girls.
Anshu Gupta, founder director, Goonj, an NGO which provides biodegradable sanitary napkins in various parts of the country, said, "The government will have to look for a viable way to produce sanitary napkins. It is also important to see how we broach the subject in the villages."