Move for better health care to Assam tea workers

Sushanta Talukdar

National Rural Health Mission inks MoU with 23 tea gardens in the State

GUWAHATI: The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Assam has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with 23 tea gardens in Assam under Public Private Partnership (PPP) to provide better health care facility to the tea garden workers and non-workers.

“The primary objective of the partnership is to extend the health care services to tea garden areas as there is high prevalence of diarrohea, cholera, maternal and infant deaths and other preventive and curative cases in these areas due to non- availability of basic health infrastructure,” said Union Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh.

“It has been planned that this partnership will cover all the districts having tea estates but in the first phase, a total of 60 tea gardens will be brought under the umbrella of PPP and gradually the remaining tea estates, wherever there is a need, will be covered,” he said.

For one calendar year

The agreement would be in force for one calendar year from the date of signing and would be renewed from time to time depending upon adherence of NRHM norms by the tea garden management. This PPP would cover garden workers, staff members and their dependents residing in estates, retired workers, other authorised and identified residents of the estate and non-entitled cases excluded under definition of ‘Family’ of the Plantation Labour Act.

Facility survey

A facility survey was done in all the selected tea estate hospitals in accordance with the prescribed checklist to identify the gaps where the State could intervene under PPP to fill up the gaps. After gap analysis, it was found that State intervention was required in the areas of manpower, repairing and renovation of hospitals including labour room, medicines and consumables and awareness among the tea garden community on matters of health.

In accordance with the MoU, the Assam government will provide Rs. 15 lakh under NRHM to a tea garden to fill up the gap as revealed in the facility survey.

The tea gardens will prepare an action plan and will get an approval from the District Health Society to utilise the fund. They can utilise this fund on recruitment of medical and paramedical staff, repairand renovation of hospitals, procurement of drugs and consumables, conducting health camps and referring patients from one health institutions to another.

It was also decided that under the PPP, the State would only fund for the services delivery but the other things such as hospital infrastructure, equipment would be the responsibility of the tea estate.