03/18/2024, 15.41
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Free consultations and tests for female workers employed in free trade area

by Melani Manel Perera

Yesterday a hundred women received free medical treatment and counselling provided by the Dabindu Collective and the Seeduwa Health District, including, among others, breast check-ups, pap smears, and blood tests. As a result of the country’s economic woes and the need to work, many Sri Lankans have not been able to seek medical care or undergo check-ups.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – A one-day free medical clinic was held yesterday for Free Trade Zone (FTZ) workers, with free medical examinations, counselling, and medical drugs.

The initiative was meant to address structural deficiencies and poor access to care for FTZ female employees.

For one of the women, “This medical clinic is a big help and a big relief for us. It is a great opportunity for the women employees who cannot go to a medical centre.”

Organised by the Dabindu Collective, in cooperation with the Seeduwa Public Health District, the clinic was held from 8 am to 4 pm, at Dabindu’s Katunayake office, and served about a hundred women.

Dabindu Collective executive director Chamila Thushari told AsiaNews that the medical clinic focused on women, especially the youngest, because they are under great pressure and face serious limitations due to widespread poverty.

Given the country’s economic crisis, it is increasingly hard for many Sri Lankans to receive medical treatment or pay for healthcare.

Workers in special zones who are underpaid lack the money to undergo medical check-ups; for this reason, says Thushari, "we have paid special attention to their health".

To this end, Public Health Office chief Dr Ravi Silva, along with Drs Supipi de Silva and Chaminda Senarath, a public health nurse, six female assistants, and a public health inspector from Seeduwa contributed to the "one-day mobile medical clinic for 100 people”.

The women underwent various examinations and received different counselling, including a physical check-up, blood pressure measurement, blood test for diabetes, body fat index measurement, blood cholesterol test, breast ultrasound and self-test, pap tests for cervical cancer, thyroid test, family planning and reproductive information, and health education.

In addition to the examinations, the women received awareness-raising information from Dr Ravi Silva on family planning, abortion, and diseases related to the reproductive system, cancer and related problems, and possible treatments.

“Since FTZ workers are not paid if they do not go to work, they are very reluctant to consult a doctor or go to the hospital for their illnesses,” said Chamila Tushari speaking to AsiaNews. “Also, they don't have enough money to meet their health needs because of the high prices of tests and medical treatment."

For Dr Silva, it was important that female workers take advantage of the mobile clinic to be examined, especially the pap smear.

Among those who were tested, “about three or four had some kind of breast infection, and steps were immediately taken to refer them for further medical consultations and advanced examinations," he said.

Dabindu executive director Thushari said that several women were referred for emergency treatment or further consultations based on their condition, including three or four women with some kind of breast problem, 16 with high cholesterol, and several with high blood pressure.

“Today we got great support from the clinic. All those who came here had some need or suffered from some kind of discomfort. We all had a chance to get a good check-up,” Budhika Sanjeevani, a young FTZ employee, told AsiaNews.

“The doctors,” she added, “recommended the necessary treatments or check-ups. We are really happy, and thank the Dabindu Collective for giving us such a great opportunity.”

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See also
A 'people's court’ to discuss workers' problems
09/05/2017 19:22
FTZ workers on strike over lost wages and jobs after COVID-19
19/11/2020 14:45
May Day in Sri Lanka: against exploitation, for more training for young workers
Mother of Catholic worker killed by police demands justice
Garment industry hit hard as plants close and workers are laid off


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