Access to affordable, local and effective healthcare can’t be taken for granted. Without it, people suffer with ill health, pain, debt and insecurity.
Jobs on estates are very physical. To be able to do these jobs day after day, workers need to be fit and healthy. Illness and injuries that might prevent people from working can lead to a loss of earnings for them and their families, which can have drastic consequences. At United Nilgiri, Welbeck and Dunsandle, workers are entitled to two-thirds of their daily rate in sick pay during periods of temporary illness, for up to 14 days a year, as a legal requirement. So, preventing illness is the key to preventing a bigger economic cost to families.
The Fairtrade Premium Committees at Dunsandle, Welbeck and United Nilgiri have all chosen to invest their Fairtrade Premium in a wide variety of healthcare projects. These are for the benefit of workers on the estate, their families and, in some cases, the wider local communities.
At Welbeck, the Fairtrade Premium Committee invested in an ambulance and its running costs. Access to reliable and safe transport that can quickly get workers and family members to hospital is vital.
At United Nilgiri, the Fairtrade Premium Committee invested in the ever-growing Rockland hospital, which workers from all United Nilgiri estates, including Korakundah, can access. The hospital has been gradually added to over the past 25 years, and provides a wide range of services. There are two regular general practice doctors, and regular clinics provided by a range of specialists including orthopaedics, dentistry, cardiology and more. Fairtrade Premium has been used to equip the dental surgery, buy an ultrasound machine and biochemistry equipment, and purchase beds for patients.
Before Dr Oamprakash joined Rockland, there was one female doctor. Through the Fairtrade Premium Committee, workers elected to spend their Premium on a male doctor, something which they felt was important. Dr Oamprakash holds a daily clinic for workers and their families, and also visits workers in the field on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays to offer health advice during working hours. The doctor sees around 30-50 patients each day in his clinic, and over 100 a week when he is out in the field. He describes the change he’s seen in the 15 years of working at Rockland:
They [the workers] have more confidence in coming here… they refer other patients to this hospital because of the different care and treatment that is given here compared to others. They value that… the quality of life of the estate workers has improved.