Odisha To Have Menstrual Health, Hygiene Policy Soon

Bhubaneswar: Odisha will soon have a policy for the management of Menstrual Health and Hygiene (MHH) to ensure that all adolescent girls and women in the reproductive age group practice proper menstrual hygiene and to ensure that the state achieves a healthy menstrual cycle by 2030.

The first-of-its-kind policy, formulated by the Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH), Bhubaneswar, in collaboration with UNICEF and the state government, aims to remove all stigma and discrimination associated with menstruation and empower women and girls through their personal choices in the pursuit of health.

The draft policy seeks to promote the menstrual health status of women and girls so that they can contribute to the development of the state. This has made it imperative to integrate MHH into activities across all sectors, given its impact on the health and development of women and girls. As per the policy, the state will develop and disseminate a feasible and context-specific guideline for the packaging, distribution, use and disposal of menstrual hygiene products in full compliance with eco-friendly policies.

It has suggested starting MHH education at the primary school level, women with special needs, and tribal communities and reducing barriers during emergencies. In addition, all schools, educational institutions and workplaces have operational toilets, changing rooms, 24/7 water supply and soap/detergent for hand washing.

The policy was formulated following a study by IIPH and UNICEF in three districts – Bhadrak, Balangir and Koraput – to assess the status of MHH. The study found that nearly three-quarters of the participants were aware that menstruation is a physiological process while 14.4 percent (PC) were unaware of its aetiology.

About 6.7 per cent of the participants in the ongoing study called menstruation a curse from God, while 3.9 per cent of women said it was caused by a disease and some of them called it God’s blessing. About 61 per cent of the respondents used sanitary pads only while 31.6 per cent used cloth only. About 59.2 percent of the participants used to throw menstrual material in the bushes for disposal and 7.8 percent still threw the absorbent in the toilet.

Bhuputra Panda, Additional Professor, IIPH, said Odisha-specific studies indicate that about one-third of girls miss school during their periods, and some of the major reasons for school absence are fear of staining clothes and There is lack of provision for settlement.

“This indicates that the provision of free sanitary pad distribution may not be a complete solution to sustain MHH. The policy will help in mainstream menstrual health in the health and development sector. The main target is women and girls making informed choices, eliminating taboos and fostering a conducive environment that allows them to manage their periods with dignity.


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