Research underway on biodegradable products being manufactured in menstrual hygiene space: MoHFW official


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

New Delhi, 28th May 2019:
The Department of Health Research (DHR) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been advised to conduct research on safety, scalability, efficacy, cost-effectiveness of biodegradable products being manufactured in the menstrual hygiene space, a top official said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi today.
“A lot of efforts are happening in the area of providing biodegradable sanitary napkins and recyclable and alternative products, with various small manufacturers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) coming up with such products using banana fibre, jute fibre, recyclable cloth based napkins, menstrual cups,” said Ms Vandana Gurnani, joint secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare while addressing an ASSOCHAM Conference on Menstrual Hygiene-Need to break the silence and build awareness.
“We have requested our department of health research, which advises us on technical issues to conduct small research and to advise us not only on the safety but also efficacy, cost effectiveness and also scalability of these products, this is some work in progress,” said Ms Gurnani while highlighting the government’s perspective.
Noting that an estimated that 1.13 lakh tonne of menstrual waste is generated annually in India, she said, “Given, there are lot of experiments in terms of using biodegradable products, a lot more needs to be done in terms of R&D (research and development) to have more efficacious, environment-friendly and scalable products.”
Talking about the progress in private sector, she said that while a lot has happened in terms of availability but in terms of affordability as well as reach in the deeper, tribal and remote parts of the country, a lot more needs to be done.
“In the remotest of the villages, we have small shops extensively selling chips and aerated drinks but yet to see sanitary napkins, market is still untapped, where we really need to move,” said the joint secretary.
She added, “We from the ministry are willing to support in terms of more awareness generation but can we look at developing, deepening, widening the markets, can we penetrate the remote areas like has been done for chips, aerated drinks, because obviously there is a distribution network.”
Ms Gurnani also impressed upon the need to look at affordability, and promote low-cost manufacturing options to make it (menstrual hygiene products) more affordable.
She also suggested tapping into the network of SHGs (self help groups) and social marketing through mid-media i.e. local folk media groups who would perform on programmes to normalise discussion on menstrual hygiene.
Besides, she even suggested that while a lot is happening in terms of using CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds of the industry, a lot more can be done in terms of raising awareness, making the products (menstrual hygiene) available.
She also called on both the industry and NGOs to come together with the government and work as ‘really solid partners,’ in this sector.
In his address, Dr Sunil Gupta, Medical Superintendent, Safdarjung Hospital said, “There is a need to make sanitary pads available at very nominal and affordable cost.”
As part of industry address, Ms Chetna Soni, associate director & country leader, feminine care, Procter & Gamble Indian Subcontinent said, “The need of the hour is for all of us stakeholders, be it the Government, Social Institutions, and Corporates to come together and leverage the expertise and resources that are unique to each one of our organizations and channel them in a singular focused direction of ensuring 100% healthy menstrual hygiene for every daughter of India.”
“It is with this belief that I would like to make a commitment on this stage today. On behalf of P&G, I pledge to reach out and extend the impact of the P&G Health & Hygiene Program to 5 Crore girls by the end of 2022,” added Ms Soni.
Amid others who addressed the ASSOCHAM conference included – Mr Anil Rajput, chairperson, ASSOCHAM CSR Project Council; Mr Ravi Bhatnagar, co-chair; Ms Geeta Chandran, renowned classical dancer, activist and founder-president, Natya Vriksha; Ms Foroogh Foyouzat, deputy representative programmes, UNICEF India and Ms Subhalakshmi Nandi, deputy regional director, ICRW.


ASSOCHAM initiated its endeavour of value creation for Indian industry in 1920. It was established by promoter Chambers, representing all regions of India. Having in its fold over 400 Chambers and Trade Associations, and serving over 4.5 lakh members across India. ASSOCHAM has emerged as the fountainhead of Knowledge for Indian industry, which is all set to redefine the dynamics of growth and development in the Knowledge Based Economy. More information available on
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