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NEW: 'One Packet of Sanitary Pads is not Sufficient'

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): Sanitary pads are now given for free to women under Rajasthan's Udaan scheme. We have received inventory for four months twice in the last year, and we received another lot recently. We verify the details through Aadhaar and Jan Aadhaar cards and distribute the pads to women. We assist with delivery and also provide relevant information. The workers of my centre are a bit older, so they do not know a lot about the issues. That's why I counsel them along with other women.

Q. At what level does conversation about menstruation usually take place? Are any kind of community-based events organised to discuss menstrual hygiene?

ASHA: We have organised programmes twice in the Gram Panchayat under Udaan, during which our supervisor explained about menstrual health and hygiene. Women, men and girls, all were present for these.

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: I don't know about ‘interest’, but awareness has increased. Now almost everyone knows about this and women themselves come and avail the free pad service from us. Women tell us that at least two pads are needed in a day, so a packet which only has six pads does not suffice for the month; it should be increased. We also discuss healthy and hygienic practices and what precautions to undertake.

Q. Have you received any training on menstrual health?

ASHA: There is no specific training on menstrual health, but menstruation is covered in our general training. We give information about menstrual health at the Anganwadi Centre and during home visits. Everyone should know about this and should also take care of their health; even TV and newspapers cover these issues now, so people have started to better understand.

Q. Are you aware of whether your Gram Panchayat prioritises menstrual health services during its planning?

ASHA: No, I don't know.

Q. Are you eligible for menstrual health services by the government too?

ASHA: Yes, ASHAs are also eligible for the scheme.

This interview was conducted with an ASHA in Rajasthan in Hindi on 31 March 2023, and has been translated.

Image Credits: Photo by Sarah Chai

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