One of the major corporate objectives of the Group has been to improve the quality of the life at the tea estates as the Group believes that people are assets to the Company and the Group continues to make investments in their welfare. With this in view, the Group launched a Primary Health Care (PHC) programme in 1989, the first of its kind in the private sector. Initiated at Lungla Tea Estate, the programme emphasized educating workers and their dependents on comprehensive health instead of focusing on curative care. PHC has been extended to all the 16 tea estates to cover 17,500 workers and their 65,000 dependents. It proved an immediate success and has brought about a major change in the primary health and well being of the Group's employees.
At the first level of the three-tier programme, which operates on the principles of health for all or equity in healthcare, the Line Health Workers (LHW) provide promotive and preventive care to households. Garden dispensaries are at the next tier where clinics on routine health, family planning, primary emergency care and referral care are held. The Camellia Duncan Foundation Hospital (CDFH), a well designed and fully equipped 50 bed hospital, is at the third tier of the programme.
The role of the garden doctors has changed with the introduction of LHWs. The doctors are now leaders and managers of the PHC team and in addition to providing curative care, they now provide training, support the LHWs and organise various intervention programmes at the community level. The housing and sanitation facilities and programmes the Group provides through the PHC are rated to be one of the best in the industry. This initiative has ensured higher use of preventive care which has improved the life of the communities significantly and a better labour-management relations.
By responding to the needs of the workers and their families, Duncan Brothers made a breakthrough in the corporate world in Bangladesh by showing how a major company, aware of its social responsibilities, can support initiatives at an affordable cost and improve the quality of peoples' lives in a significant way.
The programme has been acclaimed both in Bangladesh and abroad. The Centre for World Development Education, U. K., of which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is a patron, awarded Duncan Brothers the RTZ World Development Award for long-term commitment in 1991.