Adolescent girls in govt schools await sanitary napkins

Bangalore Health

Government schools in Bengaluru do not receive sanitary napkins under various health schemes like Shuchi, and MHS.

Bengaluru: Government schools that are beneficiaries of schemes like Shuchi, and Menstrual Health Scheme (MHS) are not receiving benefits of these schemes. The schools did not receive sanitary napkins from the state government after 2018.

Bharathi, the Head Mistress of Government Primary School at M.G. Railway Colony said, “We received sanitary napkins from the government till 2018. Later we did not receive any.” The Head Mistress also said that the students studying in the school are from families that fall below poverty line.

The ShuchiYojana was started in 2014-15 by the Government of Karnataka to distribute free sanitary napkins to all adolescent girls in the state. The beneficiaries under this scheme are the students registered in all Government, aided, and residential schools. Also, adolescent girls in hostels from the Department of Social Welfare and Minority Welfare Department are the beneficiaries of this scheme.

However, the government primary schools and government high schools in Bangalore are not receiving sanitary pads as per the Shuchi scheme.

Geeta T, headmistress of Government High School at K. Gollahalli said that they used to receive sanitary napkins before the pandemic. “We keep a few packs of sanitary napkins in the school. The primary health care center provides us when we are in need,” she said. This situation prevails in the schools around Kumbalgudu and a few schools in Bengaluru city.

Students below the poverty line do not get privilege of the schemes like Shuchi and MHS.

Poornima, headmistress of the Government High School at Kumbalgudu said, “We never complained about this situation to the officials as the girls buy their own sanitary napkins. However, if there is any emergency then we provide them the pads available in the school.” Also, the Government Primary School at Tagachkuppe did not receive any after the pandemic.

Bavitha and Sakina Banu, studying grade six in the Government Primary School at Tagachkuppe, said that they buy a pack of sanitary napkins from the nearest medical store. A pack of five sanitary napkins costs them Rs. 22.

Christina Mary, a student in Government Primary School at M.G. Railway Colony said, “My mother will get me sanitary napkins.” However, she does not know the cost of the sanitary napkin she uses.

Vasantha, Assistant Headmistress in the same school said, “Christina Mary belongs to a below poverty line family. Her parents are sweepers at Majestic bus station.”

According to the National Health Mission under the Menstrual Health Scheme, the government should provide the provision of sanitary napkins for rural girls at the subsidized rate of Rs. 6 for a pack of six sanitary napkins.

The 2022-23 state budget of the Government of Karnataka mentioned that it would distribute sanitary pads to 19 lakh girl students under the “Shuchi” scheme. Also, the state government decided to distribute menstrual cups in Dakshina Karnataka and Chamarajanagara districts. The Department of Health and Family Ministry allocated Rs. 37,000 crores for National Health Mission in the national budget 2022-23.

The schools also did not know about the Menstrual Health Scheme or Shuchi scheme. The Government of India is now set to launch a new scheme, Suvidha Sarthi, for distributing sanitary napkins in rural India.

B Simhachalam, a retired Government Junior College Principal said, “For all the government schemes, there is always a group of people who do not get the benefits of such schemes. When a beneficiary under a scheme is not benefited then it is also the person’s responsibility to talk to the government and question them.”

Students studying in Zilla Parishad schools in Andhra Pradesh get the benefits of MHS and Shuchi schemes. Damodara Srinivas, Headmaster at Chippada Zilla Parishad said that they receive sanitary napkins on regular basis from the government.

Jayshree Pandya, a gynecologist in Mumbai, said, “As these girls are still using pads, there will not be any effects on their menstrual health. Though this may affect their economic conditions.” However, the doctor did not receive any menstrual health-related complaints from these sections of the economy.