BE Stories

Launch of TB patients’ health discussion group

On 4 July and 19 August, 15 TB patients, registered at Health Care Center 41 in Khlong Toei, attended BE Health’s first “TB patients’ health discussion group”. The discussion was initiated by our Community Health Volunteers, because they noticed that TB patients often lack knowledge about their disease. To avoid transmission of infection, treatment default and drug resistance, it is important that they know how to protect themselves and their relatives. One contagious TB patient can actually infect up to 15 people every year if left untreated or poorly adherent to his/her medical treatment. Including patients’ education into TB case management is powerful. Patients not only learn more about the causes of their symptoms and the importance of their regular treatment, they will also better understand the impact of their illness on their family and direct environment. In addition, they are taught about the importance of treatment adherence to stop the spread of the disease and how to take care of their health once they are cured. In short, making TB patients knowledgeable about their own disease contributes to making health contagious.

Improve TB treatment outcomes through social protection

This month, we are eager to start our social protection programme for extremely impoverished tuberculosis patients in Bangkok. It is sometimes difficult to understand why TB continues to flourish despite easy access to diagnosis and availability to effective medical treatment. But health is more than mere absence of illness. If poverty leads to weakness and therefore to disease, tuberculosis often creates a spiral of life-threatening poverty. With no income, proper sanitation facilities and lack of food, tuberculosis patients are simply not in control of their own health.

In partnership with Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), we want to ensure adequate support to TB and MDR-TB patients by delivering financial, food and psychosocial support to improve poor patients’ treatment outcomes. Until the end of the 2017, our active TB case finding will be ongoing in Khlong Toei and, at the same time, we will provide social support to 34 patients.

World TB Day in Khlong Toei

On Sunday, 19 March, we celebrated World TB Day on the 70 Rai’s square in Khlong Toei. With the help of six BE Health community health volunteers and two peer educators, we joined the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to raise awareness of the disease among its dwellers. Although the population of this neighbourhood live with it, people do not “think tuberculosis”. There is a low level of knowledge about tuberculosis, and people are not aware of how the disease is transmitted. They may even play down the importance of symptoms or choose self-medication. And because of this, people don’t immediately seek medical assistance, which causes a delay in diagnosis and the spread of the disease.

In order to meet its commitment, the BMA sent that day a mobile X-ray van, parked at the side of the square, offering people the chance to get screened. A little more than 20% of all those who were screened were referred to the local healthcare centre as they were suspected of having TB. Such an outcome proves that tuberculosis remains a public health concern in Khlong Toei. That is why the work of our community health volunteers is crucial when they are tirelessly crisscrossing the narrow alleys of 70 Rai and Lok 1 to screen households for TB, bring knowledge and urge people with suspected TB to attend the healthcare centre for further medical investigation.

Unite to end TB

World TB Day was initiated to build public awareness about TB on every 24 March. It is a special day for all those who strive to end this disease. That is why World TB Day is a meaningful day for us too. Every year, we celebrate with our partners and members the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB). Thanks to Koch’s discovery, TB is diagnosed and cured in most of the cases. Though still 1.5 million people die from the disease every year.
On 13 March and in front of the press, BE Health was invited by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to present its activities and to launch together TB raising awareness activities in the country. Hand in hand with BMA, our peer educators and community health volunteers will mark the day by organising special awareness activities on 19 March in 70 Rai, Khlong Toei.

Business engagement in health

Exploring opportunities for Swiss corporations to engage in health stood at the centre of Swiss Malaria Group’s Corporate Forum, held on 26 January at Grand Hotel Kempinski in Geneva and organised in collaboration with BE Health. Together, we can do much more was the leading motto of the discussion between Swiss corporations and public health organisations. Companies cannot be functioning in isolation from the communities where they are operating, particularly in countries where the burden of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria is still high. This is also true for Kempinski. Its hotel operations fully depend on local employees, while local guests also fuel its business. Kempinski’s CEO, Markus Semer, stated that “our employees are exposed to infectious diseases and we needed a ready-to-implement solution to fix the problem; that’s the reason why we co-founded BE Health. BE Health offers a straightforward solution for detecting and preventing infectious diseases among our employees and communities”. Companies can bring more than donations. Companies can address their business context with business competences and relationships to create a positive change and social benefits in businesses’ communities.

Besides Swiss companies such as Firmenich, LafargeHolcim, Novartis and Syngenta, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the Global Fund and MMV as well the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute also participated in this first Corporate Forum to encourage corporations to engage in health.

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