Picture: GCIS
Picture: GCIS

The Department of Health has spent more than R800m researching, producing and distributing Max condoms, but has not put a business case to Parliament to provide sanitary towels for pupils or to have VAT on them scrapped.

Two proposals in November 2016 — one to supply free sanitary towels and another to scrap VAT — were put to the Treasury.

But the Treasury indicated it could allocate money only if presented with a business case and policy and "so far none of the potential departments that could assist had presented such a case, and for this reason, nothing had been allocated".

Six years have passed since President Jacob Zuma announced that sanitary towels would be included in the national health plan.

According to Africa Check, there could be 3.7-million girls who cannot buy sanitary pads while menstruating.

The debate on the provision of free sanitary pads has been raging for years.

According to champions of women’s dignity, SA is lagging in policy development because of a lack of financial incentives.

Countries such as Kenya and Botswana have made such provisions a part of their national policies and budgets

Basic education spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said the specialists involved in the Integrated School Health Programme, which is implemented by the basic education, health and social development departments, determined which department must take the lead.

Mhlanga said while the issue of sanitary pads was important, "we would not be the lead department when it comes to policy development".

The Department of Health did not respond to enquiries by Business Day.


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