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.