BE Stories

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.”

BE Health celebrates World TB Day in Bangkok

A railway station is like a beating heart in town. In Bangkok, thousands of people use Hua Lamphong train station daily. This is the reason why BE Health’s team set up their booth on such a busy crossroads on World TB Day, together with Thailand’s BMA. Enticing people is key to making them aware that tuberculosis is still a major health problem in the country and city. However, people are not aware of the disease, do not recognise the symptoms, nor do they know that everyone has access to TB treatment. But how do you make busy commuters knowledgeable about the disease and its prevention in a minimum of time? Like giving them a quizz, ask them to read a short script about the disease and question them afterwards. A small present rewarding an accurate response will make the exercise worthwhile!

 

A few days prior to this event and in the presence of Dr Amnuay Gajeena, Director General of the Department of Disease Control, as well as the Director of Thailand’s National TB Programme and the Vice President of BMA Health Department, BE Health and Siam Kempinski Hotel hosted the World TB Day Press Event, focusing on raising awareness and advocating better TB control. More than 120 people attended the meeting.

Abdullah is back to his TB medical treatment

It is in the Ambouli neighbourhood’s Community Health Centre in Djibouti where our peer educators Lydia, Fouad and Mohamed enquired about the list of TB patients who dropped out of their six-month medical treatment. They know it is vital for Djibouti’s population to get these patients back to proper medication to avoid the spread of TB. Abdullah was on the “lost TB patients” list and they decided to go to see him because he withdrew from his medication a few weeks previously.

They found a trembling young man with no strength left and who was coughing a lot. Abdullah lives in a small airless house without windows, which he shares with his parents and five other family members. He wouldn’t listen to his parents, who begged him to take up his treatment again. He ignored their cries, too weak to act in response. Lydia, though, knew what to do. Even though it took her some time and all her persuasion powers, she made him believe that not only he was a real danger to himself, but also that his illness was a threat to his whole family. He eventually followed Fouad to take a taxi to the hospital so that he could be re-examined and take up his medical treatment. Today, Abdullah still has a few months’ treatment to go but is on his way to being cured.

Khun Nat is cured

Khun Nat from Bangkok’s biggest slum Khlong Toei is one amongst many others BE Health’s peer educators took care of. This young man worked in the harbour next to the slum and was infected by tuberculosis through his father and brother with whom he lived in the same shanty. When one of BE Health’s peer educators visited him during the very beginning of his medical treatment, he found a weak and sad man. His father and brother just died from tuberculosis and he wished to follow them. BE Health’s peer educator Nattapol visited him every week. He made sure Khun Nat took his medication and coached him until he was cured. Together with his youngest brother, Khun Nat started a few months ago his own business in T-shirt customization and feels happy to be alive.

Tuberculosis and Tobacco: dangerous combination

BE Health in Bangkok launched its first « Quit Smoking » campaign at the workplace during the first week of October 2015.

Tuberculosis and active tobacco smoking are strongly associated, also in Thailand. According to the WHO, 20% of all new tuberculosis cases may be due to smoking tobacco. Smoking increases the risk of tuberculosis. Therefore, BE Health decided to conduct a “Quit Smoking campaign”, starting at the workplace of Siam Kempinski Hotel. The campaign includes a health check-up and counseling during three months for employees who decide to stop smoking. First, informational meetings about the risks of smoking and a survey amongst all employees were organised. As a result, 12 employees decided to give up their smoking. During the coming months, these employees will receive special counselling and mental support from BE Health’s peer educators trained especially for this responsibility. They will also regularly undergo a spirometry test as well as a urine test for cotinine. Employees that have successfully stopped smoking after six months will receive an incentive from their employer.

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