Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chevron donates $5M and an anti-TB bus to fight tuberculosis

A mobile campaign against TB
Chevron donates $5M and an anti-TB bus to fight tuberculosis
By Jacky Lynne A. Oiga
September 13, 2011
Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines -- Doctors call tuberculosis or TB a disease of neglect. Of the unconscious, of people who insist on saying ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I will be fine’ – until it’s too late.

TB infects 75 Filipinos everyday and is the sixth leading killer disease in the country. The Philippines is the 9th among 22 countries with the highest number of TB cases worldwide and ranks second in Southeast Asia.

Equally important is the fact that most Filipinos suffering from TB aren’t even diagnosed or refuse to be diagnosed. A big chunk of this lot is the hard-working jeepney drivers, the so-called hari ng kalsada, the men (sometimes women) who spend the whole-day in the streets to feed their families.

It is for this reason that Chevron Philippines Inc. (CPI), marketer of Caltex, has decided to focus its resources to public transport drivers, a segment of its customers who are among the most vulnerable to the diseases and who will benefit the most if empowered with the right knowledge on TB.

Five million dollar grant
So what does a gasoline company have to do with tuberculosis? Dean Gilbert, area business manager, Chevron Global Lubricants explains, “Health and safety is a core value at Chevron that underlies the work that we do. It’s a powerful driver for robust business performance. It impacts our business because providing for the well-being of local communities will contribute to the health of the economy.”

Being the first corporate champion of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, CPI committed five million dollars to the Philippines to fight TB. With the grant, it partnered with the Tropical Disease Foundation and the Philippine Business for Social Progress to reduce the burden of TB on the urban and rural poor populations, patients of Multi-Drug Resistance (MDR) TB, and people who are co-infected with HIV.

“For the past three years, the grant was used to train more than 8,175 service deliverers in providing quality TB services. In addition, programmatic management for MDR TB was provided to about 1,000 patients who were not responding to first line anti-TB drugs,” Gilbert adds.

The grant was also used for the training of more than a thousand service deliverers for basic community health education and referrals of TB symptomatic to Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course (DOTS) centers, as well as 5,000 private practitioners for DOTS.

Tsuper healthy!
To complement this global donation, CPI recently launched its ‘Labanan ang TB Para Tsuper Healthy’ anti-TB awareness campaign using their vast network, service stations, terminals and other facilities as a way to disseminate the right information to fight TB.

Unveiled at the launch was the Caltex Anti-TB bus was unveiled, which will make the round of the city’s public transport terminals to conduct on-board TB seminars. The awareness drive aims to provide public transport drivers, their families, and commuters with accurate information about TB symptoms, prevention and cure.

The campaign had its pilot site in Makati were 1,800 public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers and their families were engaged. Chevron is replicating efforts in Manila, this time targeting 2,500 drivers, in partnership with the Manila City Health office and the Federation of Jeepney Drivers and Operators Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP).

“We at FEJODAP are very grateful to Caltex for responding to the condition of many of our drivers suffering from TB,” says Zeny Maranan, FEJODAP president. “It has always been our wish to have satellite health centers that drivers can visit for free check-ups.”

Maranan adds, “This will be a big help for us because there are a lot of drivers who continue to ply their route even when they’re sick. The audio-video and slide presentation shown inside the bus will be very helpful to open their eyes to the real issues of TB.”

Bridging the gap
Caltex’ anti-TB helpline (381-1010) established a link between the public and free TB treatment facilities such as the DOTS center. People who call the helpline are directed to the center nearest their residence for assistance.

“We leverage on our marketing expertise and develop various communication tools from flyers, posters, stickers, water bottles, and now a mobile training bus to help spread the word that we are one in helping our fellow countrymen fight this interminable disease,” says Cherry Ramos, Policy, Government  and Public Affairs coordinator, CPI.

Gilbert reinstates that the campaign is founded on the belief that the best assistance Caltex can give is by empowering people with the right information, “We may have donated already millions of dollars in medicine but prevention is always better than cure.”

He continues, “By knowing the difference between fact and fiction, the fight against TB is already half won. By encouraging our valued customers such as PUJ drivers and their passengers to have an early check up instead of being ashamed of the stigma that comes with TB, we believe we can stop the spread of tuberculosis.”