Automatic sanitary napkin vending machines have been installed in five schools in Kohima district, Nagaland, as part of India’s total sanitation campaign. The installation was an initiative of the Communication and Capacity Devlopment Unit of Nagaland’s Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) and the Sulabh School Sanitation Clubs (SSSC), New Delhi, in collaboration with the School Education Department. The sanitary napkins cost about (US$ Rs. 3 (6.7 US dollar cents) each.
Minister for public health Dr. Ngangshi K. Ao launched the installation of one the machines at Mount Sinai School. He also released a booklet on menstruation (A girls guide on menstrual hygiene management) published by Sulabh School Sanitation Club, New Delhi. Anita Jha, senior vice president of the Sulabh International Social Service Organization, New Delhi, who was also at the launch, gave a speech on menstrual hygiene management
According to the Sulabh School Sanitation Club, poor menstrual management “leads to high levels of absenteeism and distress for girls leading to poor performance and increased dropout’ [recent research from Nepal contradicts this assumption, however].
Girl students in several north-eastern schools were said to have no access to sanitary napkins and had to wear double inner wear or used cloth that invariably stain their uniforms.
India’s rural development department promotes menstrual hygiene management as part of the sanitation programme that goes beyond merely constructing toilets.
In May 2010, the Hindu newspaper reported that sanitary napkin vending machines and incinerators were being installed in all public health centres and labour wards of government hospitals in Tamil Nadu state. The napkins from these vending machines were being dispensed for Rs. 2 (US 4.4 dollar cents) each.
In 2007, vending machines produced by Glo Life Care Equipments were already being installed in rural schools in Tamil Nadu (see video below).
Related news: India: scheme for low-cost sanitary napkins to rural girls approved, Sanitation Updates, 21 Jun 2010