BE Stories

Active case finding by BE Health’s Community Health Volunteers

Tuberculosis is a common disease in Khlong Toei, where about 100,000 people live in poor living conditions, squeezed in an area of around a square mile. Active case finding is vital to prevent TB from spreading amongst the most vulnerable in this area. That is why BE Health trained eight Community Health Volunteers living in Khlong Toei’s quarter 70 Rai to identify people with suspected active TB. Since September, they have been relentlessly crisscrossing the narrow alleys of their neighbourhoods and going door to door in search of suspected active TB cases. Each outing, they identify eight to ten suspected cases, who are sent to Healthcare Center 41 to undergo diagnostic tests. It will take them until the end of the year to cover every household in 70 Rai before screening the next quarter.

Many thanks to the commitment of Hellweg’s store teams!

Hellweg’s store teams are part of achieving our mission and we want to warmly thank them. The team in Hagen (see photo) aspires to actively help TB patients in Bangkok and Djibouti. They believe that giving can be a joy and is a way to create the change they want to see. They therefore found a new fundraising way to associate with their customers by organising a customer raffle this summer. They sold raffle lots, allowing customers to win various prizes from the store. Within a few days, EUR 3,150 was collected. This amount allows BE Health to train at least 50 Community Health Volunteers from Khlong Toei in Bangkok.

Hellweg’s team in Bonn-Duisdorf devoted their efforts to collecting extra funds by holding for the first time an auction for a bicycle, a high-pressure cleaner and a barbecue. Customers played the game! And Hellweg’s team was able to collect EUR 250, which will greatly help to support the screening of TB patients’ family members.

Once again, many thanks to all store teams for their efforts and engagement!

Khun Pongsakorn: the importance of treatment monitoring and social support

Khun Pongsakorn is lion-hearted. As a day-labourer, earning THB 380 a day (approx. EUR 10) at Bangkok’s harbour, he makes a living for a family of six. He works in flip-flops too small as he cannot afford to buy himself a pair of sneakers that fit, which have given him a pressure ulcer in both feet. But most of all, Khun Pongsakorn is a recurrent TB patient and started his medical treatment last month for the second time. Although TB treatment is free, Khun Pongsakorn needs THB 60 for his daily transport to the healthcare centre to receive his medication and THB 120 for dressing his wounds. Deeply weakened both by the disease and the ulcers, he was forced to stop working. This also means no income for the entire family which amplifies the risk factors, such as under-nutrition, for TB transmission within the household.

BE Health’s peer educators noted furthermore that Khun Pongsakorn was seriously lacking knowledge as he randomly put all his pills and tablets from eight different regimens in the same box, seriously compromising the success of his TB and ulcer treatments. Besides monitoring his treatment, the peer educators were determined to prepare precise drug packages so that he could take the correct therapeutic doses every day.

Khun Pongsakorn received financial support from his neighbourhood and social support from Healthcare Centre 41 (Khlong Toei). BE Health will take care of him until he is cured. His case shows that TB treatment monitoring, social support and empowerment are crucial to the success of tuberculosis care and prevention.

Stop smoking reduces the spread of tuberculosis

Smoking tobacco increases the risk of TB disease. It even doubles the risk that people who have been successfully treated for TB will develop TB again! This is why BE Health decided to conduct a quit smoking campaign, which demonstrated that bringing knowledge and counselling to the workplace can effectively help employees to cure their addiction. On I June, one year after its first campaign against tobacco smoking, BE Health joined Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s Health Department in their campaign to encourage people to stop smoking. More than 400 people attended the event in the middle of Bangkok’s busiest shopping area, Siam Square. Our peer educators, Saphon Udomwongrattana, Thitima Tanmanee and Anan  Leelawat, had the chance to present their actions to Dr. Pusadee Tamthai, BMA’s Deputy Governor and chair of the event. Under the supervision of Pakhin Chanthathadawong, BE Health’s public health expert, they counselled 15 of their colleagues, having decided to give up their smoking; eight employees succeeded three months later, while the other seven employees succeeded in their effort after six months. Saphon, Thitima and Anan showed that their commitment and altruism made a difference at the workplace.

Khun Ood’s story

Khun Ood is homeless. A bench on a wooden bridge over Khlong Toei’s market is where he lives. Over the past 15 years, he has been treated two times for TB already. BE Health met him at the beginning of his third treatment.

“I felt so ill, I was in agony throughout my whole body. I wanted to die. I put a rope around my neck and waited to make the final decision under a tree when a sudden breeze reminded me of my father. It made me realise that it had taken my father a long time to raise me. This thought changed my mind. I went to the doctor and, during the first two months of my treatment, I received daily injections and pills. Because of the daily shots, I couldn’t sit on my bicycle any more and had to walk five kilometres to and from the Healthcare Centre. Walking made me breathless and I had to pause many times. I had no choice other than to keep up with my medication because I didn’t want to spread my illness to my neighbours. So I told myself that receiving TB treatment was easy. Just go ahead! I believe that living is easy, but it’s the thinking which makes it difficult.”

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