Mr. Tulsiram Silawat
Honourable Health Minister, Madhya Pradesh
Subject: Missing most essential services for adolescents & young women
I am Raj Kamal Sharma, leading a project under Ipas Development Foundation (IDF) (not-for-profit organization) to improve sexual and reproductive health for adolescents and young women where major focus to improve menstrual hygiene. We have identified 328 villages at five districts in Madhya Pradesh and working through female youth leaders to increase awareness among adolescents/young women on menstrual hygiene.
I am writing to honourable minister and urging you to take decisive action on Menstrual Hygiene for adolescents and young women in MP. It is evident that many initiatives have been taken under your leadership to improve the adolescents and young women’s health on menstruation related issues. State has initiated “Udita program”, Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana, Mass-Media campaign & Rastriya Kisore Swastya Karyakarm (RKSK) to care adolescent’s health issues. State has also initiated the Udita corner at Anganwari Centres and opened Adolescents Friendly Health Centres at 89 public health facilities under RKSK initiative in MP to provide counselling, distribution of sanitary pads and services.
However, as per NFHS-4, only 26% rural young women (15-24years) using hygienic methods of menstruation protection and more than three quarter of women 78 % using clothes during menstruation.
IDF has identified 328 villages in five districts in MP and working to increase awareness on menstrual hygiene, especially the young women who live in these villages.
As per our baseline study, we have got the following alert which are alarming; only 9% rural young women use new and cleaned/washed clothes during menstruation, 33% use sanitary napkins and 9% young women reach public health facilities for menstrual related treatment.
We have also had our community (young women) observations during community meetings that when adolescents / young women don’t afford to access absorbent sanitary pads, they usually use the improvised materials such as “Rakh ki Potli”, newspaper, old dirty clothes. The use of these improvised materials cause reproductive tract infection and bacterial vaginosis infections, which in turn into increase susceptibility of their reproductive health problems. Infection causes the excess bleeding which leads anaemia, infertility and serious reproductive health issues. Poor menstrual hygiene makes negative affect of adolescents/young women and their ability to engage themselves into daily activities. It is also evident that majority of adolescents and young girls discontinue their schooling/college during their menstruation.
I have had a collaboration with RKSK, NHM, MP and we have been implementing this project for last one and half years. We have been getting support from NHM, MP to implement into 328 villages.
However, we need your kind attention on the alarming issues on poor accessibility, availability and affordability of the sanitary pads at village level. Poor awareness is also a major issue, especially villagers.
Requesting your kind support to make available sanitary pads, free of cost for the poor vulnerable adolescent/young women and get the supply strengthened at village level. Sanitary pads should be available at Sub Health Centres, Anganwari and Udita corners from where community can access easily. ASHAs are overburden so State should have a scheme and plan to develop the peer educators’ program at village level to create awareness among adolescents/young women and make the villagers healthy for menstruation issues.
I believe under your leadership adolescents/young women should have stress free and healthy life.
I look forward to have honourable minister’s kind attention on this issue and his support.
Raj Kamal Sharma
Senior State Director
Ipas Development Foundation, Madhya Pradesh.