More than eight million free sanitary products were provided to school, college and university students in the first six months of a scheme to help tackle period poverty.

The initiative, backed by £5m of Scottish Government funding, aims to ensure all students can access the items if they need them.

Every local authority is taking part in the scheme, with arrangements in place to ensure pupils also have access to products during the school holidays.

Provisional data suggests more than 5,095,051 sanitary products were purchased by local authorities over the first six months of the initiative, which began at the start of the autumn term last year.

On a visit to Edinburgh University, communities secretary Aileen Campbell said: "Being able to access period products is fundamental to equality and dignity.

"We are committed to ensuring that a lack of access to products does not impact on a student's ability to fully participate in education.

"It is important that we encourage people to challenge the stigma around periods and talk more openly about them.

"Removing the barriers to accessing period products helps that conversation. It has been great to hear about the different ways the products have been delivered and made available to those who need them."

The Scottish Government said that, by February 2019, all colleges and universities had made progress towards delivering the Programme for Government commitment to provide access to free sanitary products.

Data from 19 universities showed that 2,296,474 sanitary products were purchased between September 2018 and February 2019, while 878,604 sanitary products were bought by 24 colleges.

Oona Miller, vice-president for welfare at Edinburgh University Students' Association, said: "We are delighted by the success of the free sanitary products initiative and we would like to thank the Scottish Government for their support.

"I would personally like to thank the university's cleaning team, and staff at the Students' Association's Advice Place, who have done so much to help - from monitoring and replenishing stock to placing the orders for what is needed. They have helped bring a sense of community and a valued service to those who need it."