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Experts are concerned that supply disruptions could lead to unhygienic handling and use of menstrual hygiene materials, making women far more vulnerable to infections.
To address these issues, the WSSCC India Support Unit has produced a booklet Menstrual Health and Hygiene: Summary of Safe Practices.
Trainers from WSSCC India are making the most of the booklet to promote safe hygiene practices, especially concerning menstruation, across the country.
“With the help of the booklet, we are conducting online and on-ground training programmes and informing people about safe hygiene practices for menstruation in times of COVID-19,” said Ms Aishwarya Mishra,National MHH Consultant, Institute of Development Support (IDS) for WSSCC.
“The booklet explains in detail about the different menstrual products available, their use, affordability and disposal. It also shows safe WASH practices, including hand hygiene and safe practices to follow during the pandemic,” she said.
On 6 July, approximately 50 practitioners working in the health care sector and at the state governments of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh took part in an online training session, learning a variety of menstrual products and how to make clean, hygienic and eco-friendly sanitary napkins.
“Participants from NGOs and healthcare sector are disseminating information among vulnerable groups in their respective states. We are expecting that our participants will reach out to at least 3000 people,” claimed Mr Ramavat. trainer with WSSCC.
“The information given in the booklet is very practical, and, as a medical practitioner, I can say it will help people maintain proper hygiene. Key aspects related to general and menstrual hygiene have been covered well,” said Dr Meenakshi Sharma who participated in the online training from Barmer district in Rajasthan.
Mr Ziyaul Haque, a sanitation and hygiene trainer in Uttar Pradesh, organized a programme for rural women in the village of Sitaram Kheda in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh. Attendees were trained on good menstrual hygiene practices and the steps of proper handwashing.
“We learned new things about periods,” said Ms Vidhyawati Devi, a participant.
“This WSSCC initiative will help us give the right information to our daughters when they start menstruating and show them how to take care of the menstrual waste,” she said.
Mr Haque also organized a training session on 12 July for Samooh Sakhis, (women working under the National Rural Livelihood Mission). At least 20 women that participated in the course will, in turn, reach out to the rural population and spread awareness on menstruation and hand hygiene.
In the state of Jharkhand, Ms Princi Verma, a trainer working with partner organisation of WSSCC, reached out online to create awareness among Swacchagrahis (volunteers recognized by the government), representatives of Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (Rural), and women from self-help groups.
“Key people were made aware of menstrual hygiene and COVID-19 because they are working in the field to spread the information to the maximum number of people,” said Ms Verma.
“The booklet provides a good encapsulation of key points you need when you talk about menstrual hygiene. The information is concise, and this is helping us train a good number of people within a limited time. The DIY sanitary pad feature in the book helps us engage with the participants. At a time when resources are not available, this has helped women make their pads,” she said.
“Safe WASH practices help save people from diseases, including the coronavirus. Good WASH practices can serve as barriers to human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” said Ms Trupti Ashtankar, WASH Support officer at WSSCC.