New Delhi: About 6 in 10 women used hygienic methods of protection during their menstrual cycle, showed the latest data released by the National Family Health Survey 4 (NFHS) for 2015-16.

Personal hygiene products, including sanitary napkins, prepared napkins and tampons, are increasingly being used by young women in India, highlighted the survey, which has included this indicator in its data set for the first time.

Following the usual trend, more number of women in urban areas used hygiene products than their rural counterparts. Around 78% of women in urban areas used sanitary napkins, while in rural areas only around 48% did so.

“Sanitary protection is essential to women’s healthcare need. This is especially important for the women in rural areas who depend on different alternatives like unsanitized cloth, rugs etc whose usage can cause serious diseases like the Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI). Hence, government and other stakeholders should increase awareness about their usage in rural and remote areas, where still a lower percentage of women are using them," said Chander Shekhar, professor at Department of Fertility Studies, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS).

The Union health ministry launched a Rs150 crore scheme in 2012 to increase access, affordability and use of sanitary napkins among adolescent girls in rural areas. Under this scheme, packs which contain six sanitary napkins are provided to girls in the below poverty line (BPL) category at a subsidized cost of Re1 per pack. Girls in the above poverty line (APL) category need to pay Rs6 per pack.The napkins are distributed by the Accredited Social Heath Activists (ASHA) and Auxiliary Nurses and Midwives (ANM). They were also responsible for the monitoring process.

Nine in 10 young women in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Delhi used these personal hygiene products, showed the NFHS data for the year 2015-16. On the contrary, a little less than a half of the women in states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Odhisa used them. In case of Bihar, the percentage of young women using these hygiene products was as low as 30%.

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