Bangladesh has about 5,400 garment factories with 4 million workers and up to 12 million livelihoods dependent on it directly or indirectly. Bangladesh, with a revenue of US $26 billions per year, is the second largest exporter of ready-made-garments (RMG) in the world. Majority, if not all, of the factories are located in the urban areas. Thus, the workers of the garment factories constitute a large urban population in Dhaka, Gazipur, Tongi, Mirpur, Savar, Jaidevpur, and Mymensingh. Another unique fact about the garment industry is that more than 80% of garment workers are women. The workers of the garment industry in Bangladesh constitute a large cache of urban population in Bangladesh, who receive very little or no medical care at present. There is no reliable data regarding the disease prevalence or burden among this urban population. Hence, this project will provide for the development of a database of urban healthcare and disease burden, and also will be beneficial for the garment workers in the target area in disease diagnosis and treatment.
Health on Wheels
Health on Wheels, a healthcare service program of Health and Education for All (HAEFA), a non-profit organization founded in 2012 by faculty members at Harvard Medical School and Brown University Alpert Medical School, provides free healthcare and medicines to garment workers of Bangladesh. Its main objective is to improve the healthcare of industrial workers through On-Site (inside the factories) preventive and curative healthcare. It also trains in-house, garment factory's medical and paramedical staff for better care and provides health and nutrition-cum-feminine hygiene education through educational training. The HAEFA physicians have expertise in public health around the globe and are highly experienced in working for the underprivileged people in developing countries like Bangladesh, Haiti, Ghana and Micronesia.
The PI of the project, Ruhul Abid, MD, PhD, in collaboration with Rosemary Duda, MD, MPH, an Associate Professor of Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Soumitro Pal of Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School have developed a fast, On-Site Medical Check-Up/health screening system that collects digital medical records in real time. This procedure screens and provides treatment for common non-communicable diseases (NCD) and communicable diseases including but not limited to hypertension, diabetes, anemia, asthma and tuberculosis.