Thailand

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.

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.

Ampha Chaisawas, an Executive Housekeeper in Klong Toey

“Excellent performance comes from the heart” says Ampha Chaisawas, the experienced Executive Housekeeper at Siam Kempinski Hotel. “My small hands can contribute to improving the health of our local communities. I’m not a doctor or a nurse, but I can help underprivileged people to get the correct medical treatment until they are cured. I can give them my free time and am proud to share my knowledge on TB and HIV with their families, neighbours and close-ones, because they need to protect themselves carefully from TB and HIV. I regularly visit Klong Toey to call on patients I’ve been looking after to check on their basic health conditions and schedule for their medical treatments. In case of a suspected TB case, I encourage family members to go to the Healthcare Centre for TB and/or HIV screening. When I visit patients in Klong Toey, I often burst into tears, as they make me aware that we are much needed. Patients smile and eat more when they see that there are still people who care for them.”

Our soul is for the benefit of mankind

Pongsak Klawthanong takes a central part in all health promotion events organised by BE Health. He knows how to make people listen to him, how to pass on his knowledge, how to encourage the community to protect themselves against TB and HIV and how to urge them to be screened. “BE Health is like a stage inviting you to share your voice and bringing communities together to fight against serious health issues”. A skilled, dynamic and talented concierge at Siam Kempinski Hotel in Bangkok, Khun Pongsak enjoys ensuring his guests have a memorable stay each and every time at the hotel and in his hometown. He applies his professional competence and dedication also in his work as a BE peer health educator. He strongly believes that people can only live peacefully and happily together by helping each other. “Our soul is for the benefit of mankind” states Pongsak. His commitment to caring for his people stands in the centre of his role as a peer health educator. Health care professionals and TB patients from the Klong Toey community don’t forget him easily, as he builds genuine relationships with his patients, encouraging them to keep up with their long treatments. Pongsak is a friend to them. What better way to be a friend than through helping them better themselves and take charge of their health?

TB Awareness raising at Victory Monument in Bangkok 12 June 2015

Based in Bangkok, AON Company (Thailand) attended its first health promotion event about TB and tobacco, together with Siam Kempinski Hotel. Organised by BE Health on 12 June at Victory Monument in Bangkok, 25 staff members from Siam Kempinski Hotel and about the same number of staff members from AON were trained by BE Health’s PHEs and enthusiastically participated in the event. Supported by the National TB Programme (NTP) and Thammasat University, this TB and anti-tobacco event aimed to check lungs through a spirometer and/or X-ray examinations and was labelled as an innovative health promotion model by the NTP. Approximately 400 citizens attended the event, of whom 104 were screened for TB and seven of whom were TB suspected.

Letter of Intent Signed with Healthcare Centre 41 from 70 Rai, Klong Toey

On 3 April 2015, BE Health signed a letter of intent with Healthcare Centre 41 to promote and foster health prevention and care in regards to tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, including the strengthening of the public health sector in Chumchon Mooban Pattana 70 Rai. BE Health also signed a letter of intent with Choomchon Mooban Pattana School to promote and foster health prevention through peer-to-peer education. BE Health trained 19 school students between 13 and 15 years old to become Youth Health Volunteers in their school and amongst their families and were certified the same day.

World TB Day at 70 Rai, Klong Toey (23 March 2015)

BE Health organised World TB Day at 70 Rai, Klong Toey and partnered with the medical staff of Healthcare Centre 41 and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), who came to the event with a mobile chest X-Ray van. The event was mainly focused on TB screenings and raising awareness through discussions, games and recreation. More than 250 residents took part in the event and 144 were screened with an X-Ray. As a result, eight TB cases were identified in one morning.

Pakhin Chanthathadawong

Pakhin is an experienced project manager in public health. He earned a Master of Art in International Relations and a Master’s of Public Health from Thammasart University, Thailand. For more than ten years, he’s gathered expertise in governmental and international not-for-profit organisations and been active in HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, tobacco and community based health interventions. Pakhin is also a skilled trainer in public health communication and marketing. He joined BE Health from the start and saw to BE Health’s peer educators training and development over the last three years. He genuinely understands the social determinants and challenges of public’s health in Thailand and develops tailored solutions to increase the impact of BE Health’s activities in Klong Toey.

Sumalee Amarinsangpen

With profound expertise in tuberculosis and HIV disease control, Khun Sumalee, a practised nurse and civil servant for more than 30 years, joined BE Health in 2012 as a skilful programme coordinator. Khun Sumalee ensures peer educators’ empowerment and coordinates their prevention activities in Klong Toey as well as at their workplace. Building long-term collaborations between governmental organisations such as Thailand’s National TB programme, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration or Thailand’s Department of Disease Control and BE Health is also part of Khun Sumalee’s goals for BE Health. Working together and joining all possible efforts to contribute to reducing the incidence of tuberculosis and HIV in Bangkok’s poorest areas has become a reality thanks to Khun Sumalee and her team.

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