There are 120,000 tea workers (ILO 2016) in Bangladesh who fall into Swisscontact's Type 1 (ethnic/indigenous/linguistic) LNOB grouping. Most tea garden workers who suffer from a variety of ailments and health disorders are deprived of quality treatment due to overwhelming costs and a scarcity of professional healthcare practitioners in the community. With the rise in the prices of essentials, their situation has worsened, prompting over 100,000 tea workers in Sylhet and Chattogram districts to take to the streets to demand a wage increase, as most of them cannot afford quality education, housing, healthcare, and other daily necessities with their meagre salaries.
To bridge this gap, on September 2022, the Deputy Commissioner of Sylhet urged all NGOs to work for the LNOB (Leave No One Behind) group, the tea garden workers. ASTHA responded and served this community by providing quality primary healthcare services to over 1000 beneficiaries who are working directly in tea gardens. Day-long health camps were conducted in the areas of Kewachora and Kalagul tea garden, where 225 Men, 310 women and 75 children of the community attended and received primary healthcare. Another health camp in Kalagul tea garden area reached communities of 115 men, 170 women and 42 children and provided treatment, medicines, and video counselling on early breast cancer detection. Until now, 20 courtyard sessions have been conducted in the tea garden regions where 300 women were sensitized on Community Paramedics (CP) services and Breast Cancer Detection and introduced to the referral system for getting essential treatment.
Due to the language barrier, serving the LNOB communities of the tea garden is challenging for the CPs.
However, they reach out to ensure quality healthcare services to the LNOB communities of Sylhet division. 6 CPs are periodically working in Health Camps and 3 CPs are working at outlets or clinics and performing door-to-door visits on a regular basis. In the tea garden areas, under project ASTHA, they have targeted to provide health care to about 1200 beneficiaries (400 Men, 600 Women, 200 children).
Razu Gowala, the organizing secretary of Bangladesh Tea Garden Labour Association expressed his gratification.
This project is financed by Novartis, the Evi Diethelm Winteler Stiftung, the Laguna Foundation, the Leopold Bachmann Stiftung, among other donors. As part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, it is co-financed by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA).