BE Stories

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.

Siam Kempinski Hotel makes a difference for more than 40 TB patients in Khlong Toei.

Together with 400 invitees, Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok celebrated its sixth anniversary on 7 October. Since six years, the hotel successfully receives famous and less famous guests from all around the world. However, its management team also wanted to associate the nearby communities during that evening and organised a successful silent auction for the benefit of BE Health’s activities in Khlong Toei. In solidarity, 13 Kempinski hotels donated each a voucher of a three-night stay. Bidders were generous as a total amount of EUR 18,900 was collected in a few hours. This amount will be spent to provide social support to more than 40 TB patients and their families during their illness.

 

From left to right: Suriyont Arunwattanakul –Thai actor; Setthawut Naruemityarn – highest bidder; Samir R. Wildemann, General Manager Siam Kempinski Hotel and SVP Operations South East Asia; Sutanya Prodtayakul.

 

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.

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