Of the country's female population, only 8,023,859 use proper napkins
Missing school due to menstruation has decreased by 10% among adolescent girls in recent years.
This has been made possible by the sixfold increase in the number of schools providing health education in the last four years.
These figures were revealed at a daylong workshop on Monday to mark World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019, organised by the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) at its headquarters in Dhaka. This year’s theme of the day was "It is time for action".
According to experts, the statistics indicate a good achievement, but we have yet to go far to attain more positive results.
DPHE Executive Engineer Sharmistha Debnath, who presented the keynote paper, said: “In 2014, 40% of adolescent girls missed school due to menstruation. In 2018, the rate was reduced to 30%.
"In the last four years, the rate of girls missing school due to menstruation has fallen by 10%. In 2014, only 6% of schools provided menstrual health education. Now, the rate has gone up to 36%, which is six times greater."
Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) Director Dr Mohammad Jahangir Hossain said: "Girls and women are using sanitary pads, but the question in how safe is it?
"About 86% of women use cloths during their menstruation. I see no danger in it, but it has to be hygienic."
ACI Limited Business Director (Consumer Brands) Md Quamrul Hassan said: "In Bangladesh, among 47,199,313 girls and women going through menstruation, only 8,023,859 use proper napkins.
"So, 83% females are being deprived of basic hygiene."
Quamrul urged the government to waive VAT on low-priced sanitary pads, particularly those bought by the poorer population.
Rural Development and Cooperatives Division State Minister Swapan Bhattacharjee, who was the chief guest at the opening session, said: "About half our population are women. So, the government has to put in a lot of effort to ensure their good health. The government is doing whatever is necessary for the women of our country.
"Poor women use dirty cloths as a pad and that is a huge health risk."
SM Ghulam Farooque, senior secretary, Local Government Division, was the special guest, while Maya Benjamin, deputy representative, Unicef, spoke as the guest of honour at the event.