Strengthening the Wellbeing of the Ready-Made-Garment (RMG) Sector in Bangladesh

After the success of the 2020-2022 COVID-19 mitigation program in three textile mills, Integral Global Consulting (IGC) was awarded another project with the John C. Martin (JCM) Foundation to reduce infectious disease spread and address the health and wellness concerns of ready-made-garment (RMG) factory workers in Bangladesh. This program is similarly implemented in collaboration with AYAT Education, a local organization based in Dhaka, that prioritizes sustainability, innovation, and bridging societal gaps in health education. The project has also received support from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), who have expressed sustained interest in IGC and AYAT’s public health initiatives.

For first phase of the 3-year project, IGC and AYAT worked together to conduct gap analyses, record baseline observations, and report findings to management teams at three garment factories and textile mills located in the cities of Ashulia and Gazipur just outside Dhaka.

In September 2023, IGC and AYAT Education initiated a 3-day in-house RMG Worker Health & Wellness Campaign in 4 factories and mills. The campaigns, which are tailored to the specific needs of each factory or mill, incorporate various activities designed with the goal of expanding access to vital health assessments, identifying existing health concerns, reducing the spread of infectious diseases, and strengthening basic health education. RMG workers receive primary healthcare (PHC) and specialty screenings by Bangladeshi primary doctors and gynecologists from the Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes, Endocrine, and Metabolic Disorders (BIRDEM); the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU); and Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).

Each RMG Worker Health & Wellness Campaign follows a strategically designed process:

To date, across 3 factories, IGC and AYAT have screened 1,127 females and 887 males, for a total of 2,014 RMG workers. Of this total, 56.3% were considered “alert cases,” meaning there were abnormal levels of regulatory blood sugar (RBS), blood pressure (BP), pulse, oxygen saturation, and/or temperature. Once notified, each alert case was directed to one-on-one consultations with a primary care doctor. Females were also given the opportunity to have one-on-one consultations with a gynecologist regarding any women’s health concerns. IGC and AYAT’s data collectors documented all clinical notes and numbers and are currently in the process of detailed data analysis and reporting.

This is a 3-year initiative to expand support for the RMG sector in Bangladesh. IGC looks forward to continuing these invaluable activities and expanding work to more factories and mills in the next year.

At the end of September, IGC, AYAT, and the JCM Foundation held a roundtable event titled “Fostering the Health and Wellness of Our Workforce.” Attendees included representative from the European Union (EU), International Labor Organization (ILO), World Health Organization (WHO), BGMEA, H&M Group, Primark Stores Limited, garment factory and textile mill management, and various other organizations engaged in RMG health and wellness. IGC’s Director, Mr. Nabil Ahmed, gave the keynote presentation and moderated the discussion.

The event fostered critical conversations about the future and sustainability of quality health initiatives across the industry. One key output of the roundtable was a consensus on the need to develop an RMG worker health and wellness group between BGMEA and leading health and trade organizations to discuss current initiatives in the sector and potential future activities that ensure long-term impact and standard, equitable efforts.