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In Vietnam, there are about 2.1 million people working in the manufacturing industry, with women making up to 90% of the workforce.
Female factory workers represent a vulnerable population. They are often young, under-educated women who move from rural areas in search of work. These workers receive a low salary and work long hours, but rely on the income security and independence this work provides.
A recent assessment shows that factory workers in Vietnam face a number of eye health concerns. In one particular industry, over 65% of workers experienced eye aches, 43% had blurred vision, and 35% had eye infections.
There are currently no formalised eye health interventions for factory workers in Vietnam, so since 2017, The Fred Hollows Foundation has been trialling an innovative new model that introduced eye health services to the manufacturing sector in Vietnam for the first time.
This project is working to strengthen the eye health of female factory workers in Vietnam.
The Fred Hollows Foundation has developed an innovative way to educate, screen, and refer female factory workers to ensure that they have good eye health and that they work in a healthy environment.
Through working with factory management, this project has developed action plans to ensure eye health care is central to their workplace. This plan includes the following activities:
The Foundation is also ensuring that the pathway from screening to being referred to the local partner hospital is clear and utilised by workers, and that for workers that need it, treatment is subsidised.
These activities will result in an improved environment for eye health in the factory, in improved knowledge of eye health for workers, and improved services for workers.
In 2019, as part of the broader project, your support will allow The Fred Hollows Foundation to achieve the following outputs for female factory workers in Vietnam:
The Fred Hollows Foundation always works in partnership with like-minded organisations and health providers to ensure the largest possible reach and impact of our sight restoring work.
In this project, The Foundation has partnered with local Trade Unions to implement this work successful. Trade Unions are already established to represent workers’ rights and interests, and has proved a useful link between The Foundation and the factory workers. Further, The Foundation partners with local hospitals in the region, who receive referred patients from the factory’s medical staff and perform necessary treatments.
This pilot project enters its final year in 2019.
To date, this project has proven to be a successful model that has had a positive impact on the eye health of women working in factories in Vietnam.
At the end of the project period, successes and challenges will be reviewed, and new budgets and activities will be proposed for the wider roll-out of the project to new factories in Vietnam.
The Fred Hollows Foundation will continue to work in Vietnam until avoidable blindness has been eliminated. The Foundation is currently implementing nine projects across the country, and will ensure that the work Professor Fred Hollows started more than 25 years ago carries on.
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