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Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on March 4, 2015

Labels: Indonesia , Women’s and Children’s Health

Dr. Howe Indonesia Women's and Children's Health

Flying from Cebu, through Manila, we landed in Jakarta on a warm, humid afternoon in Indonesia - a beautiful country that was devastated by a tsunami over ten years ago.  Together, our team kicked off the Indonesian leg of my visit to Southeast Asia with a productive and energizing dinner with Johnson & Johnson Indonesia’s Managing Director, Vishnu Kalra, and the NGO, Give 2 Asia’s Program Advisor for Indonesia, Anna Juliastuti. The group discussed what I like to call our "intersections of interest,"our common strategic priorities, and of course HOPE’s excellent women’s and children’s program in Serang, West Java. 

The next day, we drove into the highlands to the town of Subang, home to a large number of garment factories supporting U.S. buyers such as Target, Walmart, JC Penney, and many others.  In Subang, Project HOPE, in partnership with MSD’s Merck for Mothers, is operating a unique and creative women’s and children’s health program called HealthWorks, which is offering comprehensive health care and health education to thousands of women now working in garment factories in Indonesia. 

Dr. Howe Indonesia HealthWorks

Project HOPE is currently working with MSD and local NGO, Yayasan Kusuma Buana (YKB), at five factories in the area, over a three year period, with opportunities to expand further. The program provides train-the-trainer health education, supervises the development and management of a volunteer core team (20+ women who oversee the health education activities of the factory population – as volunteers, at lunch and after hours, as well as advocacy support and oversight of the nursing station).  After two years, the data speaks for itself.  Each factory's three major business indicators have shown significant improvement:  increase in productivity, decrease in sick leave, and improved productivity.  The health and wellbeing of the participating women workers have improved, and this is having a direct impact on the health of their children and families. We toured the PT Hansoll-Hyun factory in the morning, followed by the Daenong factory after lunch.

I was so impressed with our HealthWorks program.  Watching just over 3,000 women leave at the exact same time for lunch, with the stunning colors of their clothing as they streamed out of the buildings en masse, underscored the size of our target population -- and the communities we are helping.  Listening to our volunteer HOPE-trained core instructor team, as they provided health education to a group of women workers was so inspiring.  And, seeing new mothers utilizing the private, dedicated breastfeeding rooms as well as receiving examinations and care served to further validate the need for what HOPE is trying to achieve here.

That evening, we met with Ashish Pal, the President and Managing Director of MSD Indonesia, and  Ira Setyawati, the Communications Director for MSD.  We had a lively and memorable evening strengthening our historic ties, aligning our common goals and interests, and reliving our wonderful day at the factories.  HealthWorks “works” and it was a great opportunity to share notes and emphasize the importance of our joint efforts.  This program is scalable, replicable and one that we’ll attempt to grow together going forward.  All in all, a great experience and so symbolic of “doing well by doing good!”

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