Health risk of Women in Tea garden of Bangladesh

The natural drink tea has got the attention all over the world yet missed out on the one producing them. The tea leaf pickers of Bangladesh remain out of sight and their miserable life as well. On the other hand, the majority of tea workers are women. Their health issues are not addressed and research and studies for years disclosed terrifying reports on women’s health risks there. 

Tea workers and their families, particularly women, face higher health risks than people in other parts of the country, primarily because of financial and other issues. At 160 tea gardens in the Sylhet and Chattogram divisions, 51 per cent of the 138,000 people who work in the tea sector are women. Pregnancy simply makes the sufferings of women workers worse, especially as the majority of them continue to perform their jobs throughout their pregnancy.

The Society for Environment and Human Development (SEHD) conducted a study on 60 pregnant women in 2018 and discovered that 29 of them were forced to get married young and that 29 of them used birth control. Nevertheless, none of their husbands ever used birth control. In tea gardens, miscarriages and maternal fatalities are higher than the national norm due to these and other reasons.

The rate of breast cancer and cervix cancer is also higher there. The majority of tea workers are ignorant of it. Another significant health issue, particularly in the tea gardens, is the prevalence of obstetric fistula, vesicovaginal fistula (VVF), and recto-vaginal fistula (RVF) among impoverished women, mostly in low- and lower-middle-income nations like Bangladesh. Tea gardeners have less to no idea of their sexual and reproductive health rights. 

The Centre for Injury Prevention and Research (CIPRB) conducted a study in 2018,  in 10 tea estates in the Moulvibazar neighbourhood where 20 suspects with fistulas were found. Fourteen were initially sent to a primary healthcare facility after being initially tested as positive utilizing a primary diagnosis questionnaire. Then, five of them were recognized as being confirmed instances. These five women were all married before turning 16 and all had babies the following year. This is thought to be a major contributing factor to obstetric fistula development. Other significant contributing factors include home deliveries with unskilled birth attendants or protracted delivery delays.

In Sylhet division tea gardens, a survey by Unicef and the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) found that 22.2 percent of women gave birth before the age of 18 and that child marriage affects 46% of the adolescents there. The survey was released at the end of 2019.

All these cases put a finger on early marriage culture. Early marriage puts people at greater risk for fistulas because it forces them to have children before they are physically ready. Even though those who acquire fistula sometimes conceal it, this causes issues during birth.

All three continue to be enormous issues in the context of the present: miscarriage, stillbirth, and maternal death. Women leaf pickers in particular put in a lot of overtime, travel great distances on foot and work on their feet all day. Even after giving birth, pregnant women continue to work, putting their health in danger.

Besides, most women in the tea gardens deliver their babies on beds set on floors in unhygienic environments, which endangers both mothers and their newborns.

In January 2019, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), with assistance from UNFPA and CIPRB, launched an initiative to eradicate fistulas among tea gardeners in the Sylhet division. 34 fistula instances in the tea estates were identified and patients were immediately sent to a specialized hospital in Dhaka. After surgery, 21 of them recovered fully, and 15 tea gardens were deemed fistula-free in 2022.

Nonetheless, the government hospitals that are close to the tea gardens, such as the Union Health and Family Welfare Centre, Upazila Health Complex, and Community Clinic, are accessible to the tea workers. Few of them, nevertheless, go to these public health facilities. Six days a week, the tea workers are often occupied in the gardens, and on the one day of the weekend, they perform home duties. It costs them money to travel far to medical services outside the gardens. The state of your finances is another deterrent. To have hospital facilities tea workers must sell their possessions or obtain loans from NGOs if they need to visit hospitals outside of the grounds. Given the expense, they are frequently forced to stay away from hospitals.

All these ultimately hamper the reproductive health of women leading to death. Their economic, and societal conditions do not permit them to have advanced health facilities even if it is near them. Awareness creation to health is immense and it needs to change their habituation to old homely health treatments. As well. 

Source 

  1. https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/views/lets-talk-about-it/news/why-do-women-tea-gardens-face-higher-reproductive-health-risks-3265511
  2. https://www.thedailystar.net/news/bangladesh/news/health-hazards-stalk-female-tea-workers-
  3. https://www.unfpa.org/news/bangladeshs-tea-gardens-saving-mothers-and-newborns
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