NEW: 'No Discussion about Menstrual Health at the Community Level'
Updated: Apr 27
Q. What are the various menstrual health services delivered in your village and district? What is your role in the process?
Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA): I am not aware of any such services. But whenever there is a Mata Samiti* meeting, we talk about menstrual hygiene and healthy practices, like using pads, to the women and the teenagers present.
Q. Do you think community members are interested in discussing menstrual hygiene? Who all are usually involved? Are women and especially adolescent girls interested in understanding menstrual hygiene from you?
ASHA: There is no discussion at the community level. Issues related to menstrual health are also not discussed during VHSND** due to paucity of time. I talk about menstruation and hygiene when I do door-to-door visits. People themselves do not talk about menstruation. Yet both women and school-going girls are more aware about these issues than in the past.
Q. Have you received any training on menstrual health?
ASHA: I have not received any separate training about menstrual health. But, ANM has told us about maintaining cleanliness during periods, consulting a doctor if there are acute or persistent difficulties, and to take iron tablets if one is feeling weak during the time of month. I use the same information while talking to women; but I haven't received a refresher on this in a while. Also, we don’t receive excess iron tablets which we can distribute in relation to menstrual health. The medical facilities in the village are still lacking due to which most of the people still use cloth.
Q. Are you aware of whether your Gram Panchayat prioritises menstrual health services during its planning?
ASHA: We are not involved in any sort of planning or finance related work.
Q. Are you eligible for menstrual health services by the government?
ASHA: I do not receive any kind of benefit or facility from the government during my periods. I do the same amount of work on those days as I do the rest of the month.
This interview was conducted with an ASHA in Bihar in Hindi on 27 March 2023, and has been translated.
Image Credits: Sora Shimazaki
* The Samiti comprises 7-12 members, including ASHA, Anganwadi Workers, one person from Care India, and mothers. Mata Samitis are held once a month, majorly for health-related discussions.
** * VHSNDs are held monthly at AWCs and aim to provide a range of services to beneficiaries, including immunisation, counselling, weighing, supplementary nutrition, provision of Iron and Folic Acid, Vitamin A, and Calcium tablets, etc.