Karnataka's sanitary napkin scheme comes to a halt
Over 17 lakh girls affected as no allocation was made for ‘Shuchi’ in State Budget
The State government that has got busy in battling the pandemic this year has silently buried a vital hygiene scheme for adolescent girls. Distribution of sanitary napkins has come to a halt as no funds have been allocated this year for the ‘Shuchi’ scheme, a menstrual hygiene project.
The State Budget presented by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on March 5, just before the first COVID-19 case was detected in the State, had not made allocation for ‘Shuchi’, which is now affecting over 17 lakh school and college girls.
The scheme, started in 2013-14, was initially a Centrally-sponsored one. However, the Centre asked States to take over the scheme from 2015-16. Every year, the State government has been spending a little over ₹49 crore on the scheme. It was aimed at instilling awareness about menstrual hygiene even among girls in the rural areas.
Admitting that the scheme had come to a halt, V. Veena, deputy director, Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), also in charge of Shuchi scheme, said the department was submitting a proposal to the government seeking funds. “We are preparing the proposal and will submit it in a week. We are aware that halting of the scheme has hit adolescent girls and are working on restarting it,” she said.
State Health Director Om Prakash R. Patil said the fund allocation towards the scheme was hit this year as the overall budgetary grants to the Health Department had reduced. “We have brought this to the notice of the government and are hoping the scheme will resume soon,” he said.
Hema Divakar, consultant gynaecologist/obstetrician, who has been advocating health and hygiene under the Union Ministry’s Kishori Swasth Yojana for adolescents, said awareness about menstrual hygiene has considerably increased in the last few years. “The entire behavioural change that was brought about through this scheme should not take a leap backwards because of the scheme being stopped,” she said.
“While it is also the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children have access to menstrual hygiene, corporate entities should recognise this as an important issue and pitch in with their CSR funds. Some of them are already doing it but more should come forward,” she said.