On International Women’s Day, the global NGO, Project HOPE, released a report highlighting its pioneering work to offer comprehensive health care and health education to thousands of women on factory floors in the developing world.
The report showcases HOPE’s innovative HealthWorks program in Cambodia and results suggest that, if widely adopted, companies can potentially foster healthier workforces in manufacturing powerhouses like Southeast Asia, and measurably cut sick leave and increase productivity.
Funded by the UK retail giant Marks and Spencer, HealthWorks was carried out in seven garment factories benefitting more than 14,500 employees (mostly women) in the space of 18 months. A local NGO, RHAC (Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia), helped implement the program and train the staff.
“Our goal was to devise a methodology to both improve the health of employees in garment factories in Cambodia who supply Marks and Spencer, and to institutionalize a process for long term sustainability for improving on-going health and preventing disease, using existing infrastructure and minimizing costs,” said Sandra Dalebout, MPH, Senior Director, Operations and Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, Project HOPE.
Results show the strategy improved the lives of women workers with targeted preventive health services, including information on previously taboo topics like safe contraception. The program’s achievements include the following:
- Strengthened infrastructure: Factory management committed to support preventive health care activities and expand existing health services
- Improved Participation and Involvement by Employees: 56% increase in attending health education in the factories and significant improvements in knowledge of healthy behaviors such as hand washing before eating
- Family planning services established in all factories
- Improved access and quality of Health Services in Factories: Major issue of anemia confirmed and treated among 18% of women and new policy and treatment response implemented
The garment industry contributes about 80 percent of Cambodia’s total exports. Marks and Spencer collected business data for the program, using an external independent consultancy, which measured Key Performance Indicators. One major company recorded a 5 percent increase in attendance at its factories, which translates to a savings of 10 hours per worker per month. An average increase of seven percent in productivity was recorded from five factories.
In Indonesia, a long-time partner of Project HOPE, the global pharmaceutical company, Merck and Co., Inc, funded the HealthWorks program in five factories with just under 10,000 women as part of their Merck for Mothers program to address maternal mortality.
International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated each year on March 8 and represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. Make It Happen is the theme for IWD 2015.
About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health problems with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now provides medical training and health education, as well as conducts humanitarian assistance programs in more than 30 countries. Follow us on Twitter at projecthopeorg. www.projecthope.org
Geraldine Carroll Tel. 540-257-3746 firstname.lastname@example.org
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