11th May 2012 was yet another memorable day for the tea plantation workers and their families of Somerset Estate in Nanu Oya. The Merrill J Fernando Health Centre on Somerset Estate was ceremonially opened and handed over to the estate management and workers by Founder and Settlor of the Foundation – Merrill J Fernando himself, amidst a large gathering of plantation workers, children and also the members of the Dilmah global family who were attending the 5th Dilmah Global Partner conference.
The Foundation completely refurbished the old Dispensary of more than 50 years into a spacious, modern and elegantly looking Health Centre, which would not be seen on any other tea or rubber plantations at present. It is indeed a Health Centre with a difference. Incidentally, Sathyaraj the 1st Medical student from the plantation was in fact born at this Centre in July 1987.
The Merrill J Fernando Health Centre on Somerset Estate is equipped to handle all emergencies as well as to meet the day to day medical needs of the resident population of 3600. The Centre is equipped with an ECG Machine, Nebulizers, Digital Blood pressure apparatus and equipments to test blood sugar and HB levels. An Ambulance is also available for swift transfer of patients if required, to the nearest Government Hospital.
The Centre provides daily Out Patient Care (OPD) medical care to its workers, anti natal and post natal care for expectant mothers and new borns, Age appropriate Immunization for children, growth monitoring and nutritional supplementary meals at Child Development Centres, Nematode control (de working) programme. It also provides regular health education to the workers and adolescents and children in matters such as Early Childhood Development (ECCD) Oral Health, Family Spacing, Safe motherhood, HIV and AIDS, affects of teenage pregnancy, Control of oral cancer and TB, Alcohol reduction, Adolescents Health and nutrition etc. and Well Women for Expectant mothers.
The Foundation provided 2 new modern Child Development Centres to Somerset estate a couple of years ago and this Health Centre re affirms its commitments and pledge to continuously strive to improve the quality of life of the tea plantation workers and the children through better healthcare, education and infrastructure development. This also truly demonstrates that at Dilmah and the MJFCF “business is always a matter of human service”.
Earlier during the day the estate management, staff, workers and the little children accorded a warm and colourful welcome in typical plantation style to the Founder of MJFCF Merrill J Fernando and his sons Dilhan and Malik and to all the global partners who attended the event.
A little girl Gotska Berny from one of the Child Development Centres welcomed the Settlor and the guests to an emotional appreciation by all those present.
The Kids also sang Happy Birthday to Mr. Fernando.
The Estate Manager Senaka Alawattegama in his vote of thanks at the end of the event expressed his profound thanks to Settlor and the Foundation and to all the Global partners of Dilmah for their ever willing support extended to bring about a smile in the faces of the tea plantation workers in general and the workers of Somerset in particular.
He also proudly announced that the Somerset Estate Health team was adjudged the 2nd Best HealthTeam amongst all plantations in the all island competition held recently