A group pushing for subsidised sanitary items for women is disappointed Pharmac has rejected an application to fund the products.
The government agency decides which pharmaceuticals should be publicly funded in New Zealand, but says sanitary products are not medicines.
Rebecca Culver, co-founder of Go With the Flow, which helps women in poverty get sanitary products, said the decision was disappointing.
Culver, who also founded the Just Zilch charity, said one of her volunteers had heavy bleeding due to a medical condition, which kept her at home for about two days a month.
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“For her, it’s really, really debilitating.”
Culver said such people needed sanitary items to be funded or subsidised to make them more accessible.
Pharmac received a funding application at the end of last year. It investigated whether subsidising tampons and sanitary pads was within its scope.
The agency said in a statement this week that “sanitary products are not medicines or medical devices”.
Culver said she understood Pharmac’s position, but believed there were women with medical problems who deserved financial assistance.
For women who had medical conditions such as endometriosis, which can cause heavy bleeding, buying tampons and sanitary pads could be expensive, she said.
Despite the application’s rejection, Culver was still hopeful progress would be made.
She encouraged women with specific medical conditions to make their own applications to Pharmac.
An online petition was started in February for tampons and sanitary pads to be funded to make them more accessible to people in need.
A separate petition to remove GST on sanitary items ran on change.org last year and received more than 3000 signatures.