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TB FORUMS: A BANYAN SHELTERING TB PATIENTS IN THEIR JOURNEY TOWARDS CURE

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REACH has the multifaceted approach to include the different stakeholders in its efforts to put end to TB. On this front, TB forums are the support groups formed by REACH under the Axshya Project. TB Forums are the group of people from different walks such as Educationist, Lawyers, Business men, Rotarians, TB Patients, retired government official etc joined together to support TB patients. The members of the forums are voluntarily join together to work for TB Free society.

REACH formed fourteen TB forums in the fourteen districts of Tamil Nadu where the project Axshya has been implemented. The support to TB patient rendered at various magnitudes such as nutritious support, medicinal support, advocacy etc.  The people from different walks of life added strength to TB forums to lobbying the issue multi dimensionally.

Some of the TB forums are themselves registered under Trust or Society Act with the help of REACH Axshya District coordinators. Such forums are located in Thanjavur, Madurai, Dindigul, Villupuram, Cuddalore, Vellore and Krishnagiri. Each forum focuses on unique activities to make the environment conducive to the TB patients.

Basically these TB forums undertake the multidimensional activities for the benefit of TB patients.

At the Advocacy level

  • At Madurai, the forum focused their activity around IEC. In collaborating with RNTCP, the forum prints IEC materials to distribute to the public for making them aware of TB and how it can be curable.
  • As majority of the Forum members at Thanjavur are business based, they pool money as a donation for the activities. They used to conduct health camp, keeping the TB screening as a main component. Apart from these, activities such as cleaning the campus of Designated Microscopic Centres (DMCs), appointing community volunteers for sputum transportation etc are undertaken by the forum depending upon the need of the hour.
  • The forum presided by the Health Educator retired from RNTCP in Cuddalore so the forum is involved in Advocacy activities widely. The forum correctly intervened at the time of government’s decision of expansion of installing GeneX to Eight districts of Tamil Nadu. A petition requesting the installation of GeneX at Cuddalore was forwarded to the Health Ministry on this regard. The ministry considered the petition and installed a GeneX at Cuddalore.
  • The patients at the government hospital of Vellore suffered of non-availability of nutritious and hygienic food at affordable cost. On this regard, Vellore TB forum members sent a petition to CM cell for opening up an ‘Amma Unavagam’ at the hospital premises. The restaurant was opened fruitfully at the efforts of the members and running now to the benefit of the patients at large and also TB patients particularly.
  • We all know, how important to use mask and gloves for the Lab Technicians while to do the TB testing. Providing these aids to the technicians was not covered by the government regulations. The forum members at Krishnagiri brought this issue into limelight by sending the petition to Department of Health services. On responding to it, Joint Director of Health Services provided the fund of Rs. 75000/- to the Department in order to address the issue at Vellore Government Hospital.
  • Apart from this, there was no water supply at the DOTS centre at Pudukottai and the patient needed to carry water bottle when they go to the centre. The forum members installed R O Plant at the centre to ensure the safe drinking water for the patients. Added to this, government hospital at Thirunelveli was not having water supply. The DOTS+ section which can accommodate 15 MDR inpatients of the hospital suffered due to the non-availability of water for the use. As TB forum of the city consists majority of business men, they pooled money and provided water supply to the benefit of these inpatients.
  • Sensitizing the Public, Private Doctors, Private Lab Technicians on addressing TB to put End to it, has been also undertaken by the TB Forum such as Dindigul TB Forum.

At the Nutritional level

  • Almost all the TB forums support the TB patients keeping up the nutritional level during the treatment period. The TB forums in the places such as Dindigul, Thiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Thirunelveli, Thiruvannamalai, Pudukottai etc provide groceries, cup of channa every day to the patients. We have the classical example of providing even the sandwich daily to the patients by the member of TB forum at Pudukottai who supposed to be the owner of the Bakery. The way of distributing groceries to the patient is very notable. The departmental store of neighbourhood of Patient’s residence will be linked up with the Patient and the store provides the necessary groceries to a patient on the day-to-day basis at the choice of him/her.
  • At Thiruvallur, the MDR patient getting nutritional support, each patient worth of Rs. 1000/- per month and 20 such patients are supported every month during their treatment period (2 years).

To enhance the efforts and advocacy skills of Forum members, two members from Vellore and Krishnagiri were sent for training on TB Advocacy at New Delhi.

It is the seed sown by REACH Axshya, now grown widely with larger branches as the huge banyan providing shelter to the TB patients to lead Cured Healthy Life.

DTC campus at Thanjavur cleaned

Cleaning of District Tuberculosis Centre (DTC) Campus at Thanjavur.

sensitization of Pvt Lab technicians at Dindigul

Sensitization of Private Lab Technicians at Dindigul

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TB REACH: A WAY FORWARD TO END TB DEATHS

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Addressing TB as an issue focusing only on the patient will never be solving the problem …!! The holistic approach of looking around the patient is the way of reaching TB to nullify it. TB REACH is one of such program not only to target Patient but also his contact points, say, mainly the family members.

REACH initiated this program along with the Corporation of Chennai to address TB centered on Patient and his contacts (family members) in November 2014. The family members of the patient are vulnerable to be affected by the disease as they live under the same roof with the patient. The program brings these family members under the screening process of TB.

How REACH involves in the process?

  • The Field officers from REACH meet all the patients under RNTCP. These index patients were counselled to convince them to get the contacts (family members) screened.
  • The index patients are issued with the coupons for the screening test of their contacts for free of cost.
  • The first step of screening test of all the contacts will be symptomatic and X-ray screening.
  • The result of these screening tests will be confirmed with the expert.
  • And on the positivity of these tests, the sputum of contacts of index patients is transported for GeneX test. After the final confirmation of positivity of the disease, the contacts refer to the TB treatment under RNTCP.
  • In case of children, the symptom and x-ray screening will be the first option as above. At this stage, the results of the screening will be consulted with the Pediatrician twice. On confirmation of positive result, the children will be referred for the treatment under RNTCP.

From November 2014 to February 2016, 4473 contacts were screened. Out of those screened, 36 contacts were diagnosed and are undergoing treatment under RNTCP. Taking into account of RNTCP’s case findings through contact screening process, it is estimated that 1431 per 1,00,000 population (Household Contacts) affected with TB.

REACH staff meet index patients

REACH staff meeting Index Patient

REACH staff counselling index patients

Counselling the Index Patient

Contact of Index patients for x ray screening

Contact of Index Patient for X-ray screening

Sputum transported for testing by GeneX

Sputum transported for GeneX test

Contacts of Index patient started on treatment

Contact of Index Patient starting treatment with the help of REACH staff

SPEAKING UP ABOUT TB: ONE OF THE AGENDA OF CHEMISTS GENERAL BODY MEETING

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Can we speak about TB in any formal meeting of professionals?! Why not!! The Drug and Chemist Association of Purasawalkam zone included ‘Speaking about TB’ by REACH in the Agenda of their Annual General Body Meeting held on 7th February 2016.

Ways of innovative engagement of pharmacists, patients’ outcome through the referrals done by the pharmacists, strategies to strengthen the existing collaborative efforts and also the importance of enrolling new pharmacists in the collaboration towards achieving TB free Society were explained by Ms. Sujatha, Program Officer from REACH. Further, druggists belong to KK Nagar, Padi, Kilpauk showed interest voluntarily in joining hands to be the part of the greater initiative of controlling TB in their area.

Above all, the secretary of Druggist Association, Purasawalkam zone proclaimed that he himself was a TB Patient and get cured through taking up medications through REACH…!! He encouraged the pharmacists to speak about TB in order to break the myths connected with the disease. The President of the association also made a plea to refer symptomatic patients to REACH when they approach pharmacies.

Key personnel of 20 zones were also met individually during the meeting and built a rapport to control TB collectively towards TB Free Society.

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Ms. Sujatha, Program Officer, REACH, addressing the Pharmacists

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NEW PHARMACIES ON BOARD TOWARDS TB CONTROL

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Involving Pharmacists in TB control is one of the major initiatives undertaken by REACH towards achieving TB free society…! On part of this, sensitization program for pharmacies was conducted on 25th January 2016 by REACH in Hotel Thiruvizha, Ambattur with the support of Drug and Chemists Association of Ambattur Zone. The good number of 43 new pharmacists in Ambattur zone participated and they were sensitized on the unique role of Pharmacists in TB Control, sharing of the experiences of pharmacies who are playing dynamic role in this greater cause etc. The movie on TB control was also played to make the participants more attentive and inspired to get involved in the greater cause.

Our Sincere Thanks to Chennai Drug & Chemists Association for motivating the Chemists of Ambattur to be part of this MOVE along with REACH…!

It is worth to mention the impact of the programme here: Six Symptomatic Patients were referred to REACH for further diagnosis and also three Chest Physicians have been extended their supportive hands through the greater efforts of the pharmacists of Ambattur Zone.

The more visibility also occurred as the event was reported in the local newspaper ‘Ambattur Town News’.

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Dr. Radha addressing the pharmacists

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Reporting in the local news paper

REACH OUT FOR HELP: IMPACT OF IEC MATERIALS

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Engaging Different Stakeholders – Private Practitioners, Pharmacists, Media Personnel, Government officials etc – is the multifaceted way to fight against Tuberculosis. I am one of such stakeholder engage myself in this noble cause. I always try to Inform, Educate and Communicate with the people the right way they can reach out for help in treating TB.

Let me share with you an interesting incident in my Journey of saving lives fighting against TB. Chandu (name changed), a 26 years old young man in Trichy, came to the pharmacy accompanying his friend. He had the continuous cough for more than 2 weeks but it is usual for him and was not taken seriously. I informed him the symptoms of TB and educated him why he needs to suspect the illness with TB as he has the productive cough. I empowered him and finally communicated to him how to reach out for Help by providing him the TB Helpline very secretly.

He called out the REACH TB Helpline which is located in Chennai. After receiving the call, the REACH Helpline personnel communicated to the staff in Trichy and asked him to help Chandu immediately. Chandu was assisted by the REACH staff immediately and taken to the DOTS centre. Yes there he was identified as smear POSITIVE. But with the continuous assistance and follow up of REACH, Chandu fought against TB, won and become a successful SURVIVOR completely cured.

I could not express my HAPPINESS in words…..!!! Are you eager to know who I am?!! I am the POSTER….. IEC material, always do my duty of providing INFORMATON about TB, EDUCATE people with the Information provided such as symptoms of TB and make them to COMMUNICATE (for help) with the provided information.