Garment workers in Bangladesh suffer significantly from diarrhea, dysentery, skin disease, lung disease and other health conditions, many of which are contagious and spread through hands from one to another. Proper hand washing can reduce the contamination of these diseases largely, according to WHO report, which cited by Sujan Saha, Chairman and Managing Director of BASF Bangladesh Ltd.
He cited this in a dialogue, organized by global chemical giant BASF, held on 25 July at a city hotel where State minister for labor Mujibul Haque was present as the chief guest along with senior vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Faruque Hassan.
The dialogue was arranged to brief stakeholders including factory management, soap manufacturers and health and hygiene specialists about the project.
Hand washing with soap at critical times including before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet can reduce diarrhea by more than 40 percent while it can reduce incidence of acute respiratory infections by around 23 percent, according to the BASF.
The minister called upon the BASF to take measures to eradicate hazardous child labor from the country. The company, which has been active in this part since 1966, handed over a cheque for Tk 5.1 million to the government’s workers welfare fund as part of its net profit between 2006 and 2015. BASF is supporting a Tk 23 million program to improve hygiene among the readymade garment workers.
The project, implemented by Voluntary Organization for Social Development (VOSD), will explore existing health behavior among garment workers with a view to improving hygiene and reducing associated diseases, said Sujan Saha, chairman and managing director of BASF Bangladesh Ltd.
Bangladesh is the second-largest garment exporter after China and it is a labor-intensive industry that employs more than 4.0 million of workers, mostly women, he said, explaining the reason why they had introduced the program in the sector.
Liquid hand soap will be distributed among 0.2 million of garment workers free of cost, he said.
In the first phase, VOSD will conduct a six-eight week baseline study to understand the barriers and context of hygiene behavior among garment workers. The program is designed to target improved behavior through promotional events and supply adequate liquid hand soap at the factory level.
Speaking at the event, the BGMEA leader admitted that hand washing promotion can play a role in reducing absenteeism, thus helping enhance productivity.
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