Teach kids to sneeze right

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The efforts to control tuberculosis, and a host of other infectious diseases, could benefit from people learning to cough and sneeze right. It isn’t uncommon to watch people cough and sneeze unhygenically, without a handkerchief – maybe if we taught our kids how to sneeze correctly, it would develop as a habit. For adults, there may be a lesson here too, in this video developed by Kleenex, on cough hygience for kids. Have a look!


The pharmacy project: a story from the field

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An elderly man of 70 years approached the Shafi Pharmacy (in Korukkupet, Chennai) along with his son to purchase some medicines for his cough which had been troubling him for some time.

The pharmacist Mr. Rafi made small talk with this man, named Pachaiappan and during the course of the conversation found that he had a cough for over 2 weeks. He explained to him that this should be investigated and put him onto REACH’s field officer at Sugam hospital, Ms Shanthi.

Ms.Shanthi explained that a two-week continuous cough is a symptom of TB and that it could be tested by a sputum microscopy test. Mr Pachiappan, who was visiting his son in Chennai, makes a living working as a barber in Senji.

The sputum tests revealed that he was a sputum positive patient. She spoke to the patient and explained to him about the DOTS program and how he could get free diagnosis and treatment at his nearest government hospital. She referred him along with a transfer-out slip and a letter requesting the concerned staff to start him on treatment immediately. The next day, she received a call from the STS of that government hospital (a person who is responsible for ensuring DOTS treatment for patients) assuring her that Mr Pachiappan would be started on treatment as soon as possible. A patient was admitted in time for treatment because his pharmacist had the presence of mind to ask him to test for TB.

Pharmacists are often the first point of contact for TB patients – many of whom do not know that a two-week continuous cough could signal TB and instead head to the their pharmacist and casually ask them for something to get rid of this cough.

REACH has been working on a new project to include pharmacists into TB control. We have identified pharmacists across the city, and provided them with training to identify, counsel and guide patients to appropriate centres where TB care services can be provided.

As pharmacists share a close bond with their customers we are hoping that they could contribute towards TB control – their participation is vital to wholesome TB control. Keep following our blog to find out more about the progress of this project. Read about it on our website:

A surprise at our Pharmacists’ meeting

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REACH has been organising meetings for several thousand pharmacists across Chennai to encourage them to enlist their support and co-operation for TB control efforts in Chennai, as part of an ambitious project. In one such meeting, held in Tiruvotriyuir in North Chennai, where about 100 pharmacists participated, we were faced with a pleasant surprise.

After about an hour of sharing our ideas, a pharmacist came up on the dais and made a startling revelation before the audience: “many of you know me professionally and personally, but nobody knows my brother suffered from leprosy. He was diagnosed at a community health camp. When the results were positive the team visited our house, explained the disease, provided the treatment options, and held our hands, as we went through the shock as well as the treatment phase, till he was fully cured.

As I sit here listening to the team from REACH, I see a similarity in the sort of stigma that TB carries in society. Nobody wants to share these life enriching experiences and hence I want to come forward and tell you my story. Me and my family were very fortunate that a team came to help us during our need and REACH gives us all here that chance to be a part of their team providing counseling and support to TB patients – that is important, along with treatment.

REACH gives us an opportunity to be caregivers and change the lives of people. I request all you to come forward and help all the TB patients. Today my brother is working for a big IT concern at Bangalore and is fully cured of leprosy.”

Truly encouraging words that!

– Sheela Augusteen, Project Manager

Khadija’s story: turning community DOTS volunteer

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Khadija had never known too much about TB until her neighbour came down with the disease. In the process of helping her neighbour, she came to learn about the DOTS mechanism, and about TB in general. It’s been ten years since she played the role of DOTS provider to her neighbour, and since then, she has regularly worked as DOTS provider to more than 20 patients.



 Mrs Khadija; photo by: REACH

“Being a DOTS provider isn’t as easy as it sounds,” she says,  “A lot of times, people discontinue medicines, take to alcohol…there’s all sorts of problem for the patient to deal with during those 6 – 8 months and in that time, the DOTS provider will also have to act as a counselor and a friend to the patient. Without that sort of support, being a DOTS provider becomes meaningless.”

Turning DOTS provider just happened by chance, she says, but the satisfaction that serving the community in this way brings her far greater returns. “I feel very happy that I am able to help TB patients complete treatment. It gives me great happiness to watch them get well and move on with their lives. And I’ m happy to be a small part of this vast network of private and public stakeholders who fight against TB in India.”