In a country that loses $37 billion (about Rs 2,03,500 Cr) in annual productivity on account of poor eyesight of its working population, eyecare is an area that requires proactive intervention. Given this, Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL) has embarked on a journey to correct the vision of its workers and staff in three of its estate in Dibrugarh district of Assam. APPL which is the second largest tea producer in India, employs more than 31,000 people; most of them are workers. The mission is to screen 5000 workers and their dependants for refractive error and provide them with free eye wear for corrective vision. This is a first of its kind endeavour to provide free spectacles to those who need it the most.
Blurry vision compromises one’s ability to work effectively, to read and learn in school, and to navigate surroundings with ease and safety. For many of those living in developing countries and suffering from vision loss, a pair of eyeglasses could prevent loss of income and improve quality of life.
VisionSpring, as an organization reduces the exclusivity and expense associated with reading glasses and makes it easily accessible and affordable to bottom of the pyramid (BoP) customers. VisionSpring is an Associate Member of the World Health Organization's Vision 2020 consortium and contributes towards its global initiative of eliminating avoidable blindness.
Amalgamated Plantations Pvt Ltd and VisionSpring have come together on an innovative project to improve tea estate worker welfare to ensure quality eye care for its tea plantation workers. Eye exams and eyeglasses will be provided by VisionSpring to workers and their families at 3 earmarked APPL tea estates. In the first 2 days of the camp, 334 workers were screened and 261 were provided with eyewear. It was also ssen that of those screened so far, 74% of them suffered from refractive error.
At the end of the project, VisionSpring will share a project report on the population screened and trends in vision impairment among the tea plantation workers. As such a study has not been done so far, the results of this project will be able to shed light on an important aspect of workers’ welfare and guide future course of action for the Company with regard to eye screening.
Read the News Coverage by Roopak Goswami : http://epaper.telegraphindia.com/detail/187684-1426916.html
ROOPAK GOSWAMI Guwahati, May 13: The Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd has an eye on clearer vision for the tea garden workforce.
The company has launched an initiative to provide free eyewear to the garden workers and help them increase their overall quality of life.
"Its mission is to screen 5,000 workers and their dependants for refractive errors and provide them with free eyewear for corrective vision. This is a first of its kind endeavour to provide free spectacles to those who need it the most," Dhiraj Kakati, the managing trustee of Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd Foundation, told The Telegraph.
The company has joined hands with the New- York based VisionSpring, an associate member of the World Health Organisation's Vision 2020 consortium, to improve tea estate workers' welfare and ensure quality eye care for its tea plantation workers.
VisionSpring was founded on a very basic principle: " If you can't see, you can't work." The idea of the project is to increase productivity of the tea estate plantation workers and allied population after getting a pair of glasses at the camps. The tea community has extremely limited access to primary eye care services.
The company, which is the second largest tea producer in the country, employs more than 31,000 people in its 25 estates spread across Assam and Bengal. The initiative has initially begun in three of its estates in Dibrugarh district and will be extended to the other gardens in phases, Kakati said.
Earlier studies say the chance of a tea garden worker, between 35 and 60 years of age, having a refractive error is 70 per cent. As a result, they perform 35 per cent less effectively and the quality of their work is also unsatisfactory. With proper glasses, the productivity of an individual is likely to be enhanced and his/ her overall quality of life improved.
Eyeglasses will be provided by VisionSpring to workers and their families at the three gardens — Chabua, Powai and Nahortoli. Already 334 workers have been screened and 261 have been provided with glasses. Of those screened so far, 74 per cent suffered from refractive error.
VisionSpring will also keep a start- up kit, having reading glasses, pre- cuts and sunglasses, at the tea estate hospitals or primary health centres.
At the end of the project, VisionSpring will share a report on the population screened and the trends in vision impairment among the tea plantation workers.
"As such a study has not been done so far, the results of this project will be able to shed light on an important aspect of workers' welfare and guide the course of action for the company with regard to eye- screening," Kakati said.
An eye camp at an APPL tea garden. Telegraph picture