Ensuring the health and well-being of workers is an imperative for the growth of RMG industry, reputation, and long-term sustainability, said Faruque Hassan, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
He made the remark while addressing a dialogue titled “fostering the Health and wellness of our workforce” organized by Ayat Education, in partnership with Integral GlobalHealth and BGMEA, and supported by The John C. Martin (JCM) Foundation at The Westin Dhaka on Wednesday.
The program was attended by distinguished guests, including H. E. Charles Whitely, Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Bangladesh; Tuomo Poutiaine, Country Director of ILO Bangladesh; Dr. Sadhana Bhagwat, Medical Officer-NCD, WHO Bangladesh; Asif Ibrahim, Director, BGMEA ; Ziaur Rahman, H&M Group Country Manager for Bangladesh; Neelanjana Khan, Country Project Manager, Primark; Misha Mahjabeen, Country Director, Vision Spring.
The discussion was moderated by Nusrat Aman, CEO, Ayat Education while Nabil Ahmed, Director, Integral Global Health made the keynote presentation at the roundtable.
In his address, President Faruque Hassan highlighted the industry's dedication to ensuring the safety, health, nutrition, and well-being of the nation’s workforce.
He went on to elaborate on the industry's commitment to worker well-being, citing numerous non-wage benefits provided by factories. These include healthcare centers, eye care facilities, day care centers, fair price shops, and initiatives for the community, including schools and hospitals.
The BGMEA President highlighted various collaborations and initiatives undertaken by the association to promote the health and well-being of RMG workers. These initiatives range from healthcare centers and maternity rights programs to eye care services and mental health awareness campaigns.
With a strategic goal of reaching $100 billion in RMG exports by 2030, BGMEA emphasizes the importance of worker well-being and encourages support from all stakeholders in this journey, he added.
Charles Whiteley, Ambassador of the European Union (EU) delegation to Bangladesh said it is important to establish daycare centers which have proved to improve productivity in Europe. He also suggested the importance of collecting data on workers' health and wellness to inform evidence-based interventions.
Ramesh Singh, Country Director, CARE Bangladesh, further added that occupational disease diagnosis is also absent in Bangladesh and needs to be addressed in clinics and other public hospitals, through a holistic approach.
Dr. Lilian Lou, President and Program Director of the John C. Martin Foundation commented on the roundtable experience, expressing her enthusiasm for seeing major stakeholders under one roof.