“A healthy place is a happy place” is an old saying but something which will always remain. “Healthy” refers not just to the physical attributes but the psychological issues as well. For women, the cases are more sensitive than men.
The garments manufacturing units of DBL Group consists of about 55% female workers. Issues such as acquiring knowledge of female reproductive health, maintaining menstrual regulation, and using products which ensure hygiene are very significant. DBL has undertaken many programs to address these issues: one of the latest being setting up of a Family Planning Corner within the factory premises in partnership with Marie Stopes Bangladesh. The London Summit on Family Planning in 2012 set a bold “FP2020” commitment to expand access to modern contraceptive methods for an additional 120 million women and girls by 2020.
The Family Planning Corner (FPC)
On June 2016, the Family Planning Corner Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Marie Stopes Bangladesh and DBL Group. The facility went into operation on 23 October 2016 and is currently providing personalized contraception and reproductive health services to women within the factory premises. Continuous efforts are being taken to expand access to contraception and services and to offer the widest range of family planning methods. These services give a woman the power to choose when she would have children so she is free to pursue her dreams for herself and her family.
Currently, there are 654 registered clients (DBL workers) for the services of which 530 are women and 124 are men. A total of 705 different FP services has been provided from November 2016 to February 2017. A wide range of choices are available for family planning through a cafeteria
approach. All these services and related quality standards are maintained following the protocol developed by the Directorate General of Family Planning of the Government of Bangladesh. The services offered include:
- Short term family planning methods: pill, condom and injectable
- Long term family planning methods: IUD and implants
- Safe motherhood services: Antenatal and post-natal services
- Management of sexually transmitted infections (STI)
A quick summary of the services provided so far has been shown below.
Different family planning services receivers
Gender distribution for family planning services
Within just four months into operation, workers have received various benefits from the Family Planning Corner. These consist of:
- Only BDT 10 is required for registration; the services and materials are given 100% free.
- Free health check-up is provided.
- Counseling and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are provided to workers and their spouse.
- Related antibiotics are given at 50% cost of the maximum retail price.
- Proper intake and dosage of medicine is ensured as the services are provided by very aptly qualified doctors. Injectable contraceptives are applied by qualified nurses.
DBL has also been receiving benefits from this service. These include:
- Decreased absenteeism: the side effects from the medicines in the FPC are much lower than those available in the local community due to the quality.
- Reduced impact on production: workers needing significantly less hours away from work due to the FPC being within the complex.
Comments from workers
Some of the comments from different workers have been included below. For ensuring privacy, the names the workers have not been stated.
- One female worker has been in DBL Group from 2008. She said that she is taking a contraceptive method (injection) from the Family Planning Corner. Earlier, she used to take the service from the local community at her own cost and time. But now she is taking the service from in house and thus saving her money and time.
- Another female worker shared that her husband is an auto-rickshaw driver who is currently suffering from STD. She is taking contraceptive pills as well as condom for her husband from the Family Planning Corner. Stating the cost savings, she also shared that she is now receiving “double protection”, saving herself from the STD.
- A male worker stated that he used to incur BDT 300 every month on family planning. He was very elated to express that the Family Planning Corner has brought down his cost significantly.
Linking with the SDGs
The Family Planning Service along with other health programs of DBL has contributed to multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and these include:
|| Access to sexual and reproductive health-care services
|| Access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights
The DBL – Marie Stopes Family Planning Corner portrays the benefits of social franchising through the existing private sector. Rapid scale-up access to high-quality family planning services, including long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) is now possible for the general population as well as women and the deprived, providing a promising model to help achieve the global FP 2020 goal.
“Be a global citizen. Act with passion and compassion. Help us make this world safer and more sustainable today and for the generations that will follow us. That is our moral responsibility.”