Health Minister Zahid Maleque has said the government will distribute free sanitary napkins among women through the public healthcare centres across the country.
Many adolescent girls and mothers cannot buy sanitary pads owing to financial constraints, the health minister pointed out.
"Women get infected with various diseases including cancer for not using sanitary napkins", he said, adding, "Therefore, we have decided to distribute sanitary napkins for free.
"'From now on, women and girls can take sanitary napkins at free of cost from all the healthcare centres across the country."
The health minister came up with the remarks while addressing a press conference held at the Directorate General of Family Planning ahead of the Family Welfare Service and Publicity Week scheduled to be observed from December 7 to 12.
Minister Zahid said from now on as many as 150 health and family welfare centres across the country will provide healthcare services 24 hours a day.
According to data revealed at the press conference, there are a total of 4,628 health and family welfare centres across the country. All the healthcare centres cannot be kept open round the clock, owing to a shortage of manpower. Against this backdrop, the government is planning to recruit more manpower for these healthcare centres.
The health minister said, "We will keep all the health complexes open 24 hours a day, once the manpower shortage is over."
The Family Welfare Service and Publicity Week this year will be observed with the theme "Take family planning services, prevent adolescent motherhood".
It has been revealed in Thursday's press briefing that 59 percent of women in the country are married off before reaching 18 years of age. On the other hand, as many as 113 girls in every 1000 get pregnant when they are aged between 15 years and 19 years.
The mortality rate in adolescent mothers is two times higher compared to that in mothers aged 20 years or above. On the other hand, the death risk is five times higher in mothers aged below 14 years. The mortality rate of their child is also very high.
The health minister said Bangladesh has made noticeable achievement in reducing maternal and child mortality rates over the last few years. He attributed the success to an increase in women's education, successful vaccination programmes, and family planning.
The minister also said all this achievement becomes less meaningful when an adolescent girl faces untimely death while giving birth to a child.
"To come out of this situation, we need to prevent child marriage," he said adding that apart from motivating capable couples for family planning, measures must be taken up to educate married adolescent girls about proper use of birth control methods and institutional delivery services.