Nationwide, up to 25% of girls drop out of school due to lack of proper menstrual health management facilities.

Sanitary pads iron supplements How Hyd officials are teaching girls menstrual hygiene
news Health Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 18:42

A recent report by the United Nations, which stated that an alarming 25% of girls are forced to drop out of school due to the lack of facilities available when they are menstruating, caught Dr Yogita Rana’s attention. As the Hyderabad Collector read more about this, she learnt of the sheer number of restrictions placed on women due to menstrual taboos.

She quickly realised she had to do something to address this.

“This is something that I found to be the need of the hour. In most urban areas, this isn’t so much a problem, but if you look at government schools, a number of girls who come from lower-income families end up dropping out because there are no facilities available to help them manage their periods when they are at school,” she told TNM. “Furthermore, it was even more alarming for me to realise that so many of them have such little knowledge of menstruation.”

It was this attitude towards menstrual hygiene and the lack of education surrounding menstruation, which made Dr Yogita take steps to ensure that the issue was addressed.  

In a country, where up to 70% of women do not have access to adequate information concerning their periods, steps are being taken by officials in Telangana to better educate girls about their menstrual cycles.

“So far, we have trained around 2,000 people to work on the ground level at the schools, with the students to provide the girls with information about their periods and how to take care of themselves when they have their periods,” added Dr Yogita.

It was reported earlier that in Hyderbad alone, upto 8% of girls were dropping out due to lack of a proper school infrastructure which supported them when they were on their periods.

“Girls of a particular age refuse to play sports or drop out of schools entirely because families think that schools cannot offer them the care they need during adolescence,” said Isidore Phillips of Divya Disha, an NGO for protection of child rights, to The Hindu.

Echoing this, Dr Yogita added that menstrual hygiene and education was the need of the hour.

“We took the Beti Bachao, Beti Padao campaign very seriously; the Chief Minister too has been very vocal and supportive of the campaign. It was recognised that menstrual hygiene and education needed to be taught to our girls. We started by providing government schools with sanitary pads for the girls and will soon be introducing sanitary pad incinerators into these schools so that there is a proper method of pad disposal for them to utilise as well,” said Dr Yogita.

Menstrual Hygiene

At the moment, the government is distributing clean, branded pads to 50 institutions, targeting around 7,000 girls and is looking to expand to more schools throughout the  city.

Incinerators are also being tried out in selected government schools in Hyderabad, and will be implemented in other schools by the end of July.

Each incinerator has the capacity to burn up to 7 pads at a time and one machine can dispose of up to 120 pads a day.

Nutrition and Anemia

“Many of our girls are often anaemic. We screened around 5,000 girls and found that a significant number of them are anaemic and sought to find a way to treat that also,” said Dr Yogita. “It becomes particularly important to check whether girls of the menstruating age group are anemic are not, because they are subject to a physiological blood loss every month as it is.”

The National Family Health Survey 4 (2015 to 2016) said that 57% of women in Telangana were found to be anemic.

Students who were found to have low hemoglobin (less than 8gm/dl) were given weekly iron and folic acid supplements, and were further checked to determine if there was any underlying pathology behind the same.

After 3 months, their haemoglobin levels are tested again to see if there is any improvement and they are continued on the same treatment if deemed necessary.

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