A little more than a year after the Department of Public Health launched the menstrual hygiene in Coimbatore, it has covered one lakh girls. It has thus far provided 12.70 lakh sanitary napkins for girls in the 10 – 19 age group.
The Department also covers women who have given birth and women prisoners, says R. Damodharan, Deputy Director of Public Health, Coimbatore. In this, the Department has joined hands with the Department of School Education, Integrated Child Development Services and the Department of Home.
It has targeted school-going girls through nodal teachers and girls not going to schools through village health nurses. At the schools the teachers concerned give three packs of six pads every two months to every student.
The date of disbursement is registered in registers in schools and the teachers concerned monitor the programme very closely. And this has had an impact on the attendance and also the girls’ social behaviour. Girls going on leave for two or three days a month during menstrual cycle is now absent, says N.A. Malika Mehroon, a maths teacher at the Government Higher Secondary School, Kaliannanpudur, near Kinathukadavu.
She also says that the incidences of girls not participating in sports and games during the Physical Education and Training have come down. Of the 843 students, there are 223 beneficiary girls in the school.
Dr. Damodharan says that the Department of Public Health does not stop with just disbursing sanitary napkins. It also conducts awareness programme through the nodal teachers, village health nurses and by way of the school health awareness programme.
This programme has also brought down instances of pelvic inflammatory diseases and leucorrhoea in girls and their going to medically untrained persons or quacks for medical assistance and bringing upon themselves further complication.
For, post-natal mothers, the Department disburses seven packs of napkins – the first set of three packs at government hospitals or primary health centres on the day of discharge, two packs on the third day after discharge, one pack each on the fifth and seventh day after discharge. This is to coincide with the Integrated Management of Neo-natal and Childhood Illness programme.
And, the Department distributes the 18 packs of napkins a year to women prisoners at three packs every two months. As for disposal of used napkins, the Department advocates various methods including burial or incineration. Now it has written to the Department of School Education to establish incinerators in this regard and the latter has in-principal agreed to it to buy the incinerators under the Sarva Siksha Abiyan (education for all) programme.