Within that pill is also your health – said Rachel C Orduno who herself completed anti-TB treatment (ATT) years back to encourage others who were on ATT and didn't want to take the pills due to toxicity and side effects of ATT. “Take the pills and get on with your lives” said she. She showed a photograph of all ATT pills for her family put in one bag – and titled the photograph as 'Gift of Health.' Six of her family members had come out positive for TB. This was one of the most motivating sessions at the 41st Union World Conference on Lung Health in Berlin, Germany (symposium of advocacy, communication and social mobilization – ACSM on 14 November 2010). Rachel C Orduno was introduced as a TB survivor, rightly so – who continues to strengthen social response to TB that complements the biomedical one in such a vital way.
She reported cough, night fevers, laryngitis, and other symptoms in the winter of 2003. Till summers of 2006, she had added symptoms of chest pain and a 40 lbs weight loss. But no confirmed diagnosis!
Meantime over the years, she had faced the adverse impact of misdiagnosis, aggravated allergies, flu, sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, aspergillus and asthma. She had diabetes since 2002 (positive PPD in 1971 and 1993). Also, she was a foreigner as was born in Mexico.
After so many years, finally, on 28 June 2006, she got a confirmed TB diagnosis. Soon thereafter, on 3 July 2006, she was put on anti-TB treatment (ATT) and nine months later, she completed ATT on 2 April 2007.
The family that gets sick together – is how she mentioned her situation with six of her family members coming out positive for TB. Her parents and three nieces were also found to have latent TB.
She also spoke about the empowering process of Amaya Lacson Foundation whose TB Photovoice initiative had tremendously inspired her. In 2004, Romel Saulog Lacson lost his wife Claudia Amaya, because of delayed diagnosis and treatment for TB meningitis. Emma, their newborn daughter also died. Claudia was a physician and Romel was then working for Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Amaya Lacson Foundation and its TB Photovoice initiative thus began years ago to empower affected communities to be equal partners in TB care and control.
TB Photovoice puts cameras into the hands of people affected by TB who have the least access to decision makers, to help them capture their own experiences with TB, said Rachel. TB Photovoice brings people affected by TB together with their health providers in a supportive and informative environment encouraging treatment completion. Sharing these photographs and accompanying stories is a very powerful way of contributing to and promoting healthy public policy, said Rachel.
The key to effective TB control is in making the person affected by TB feel in-charge and in-control of his or her own recovery from TB. The people with active TB disease feels in the driver's seat – and as a partner in his or her recovery, said Rachel. That is why she said to her family and others: 'within that pill is also your health, take that pill and get on with your lives.'
“There are social solutions [to TB care and control] that we must consider” said Romel Lacson.
“Visual media builds relationships with participants and often rides the fence between formal and informal relationships, making it possible to expose a more everyday or true representation of the human condition” said Damien Schumann, another noted photographer who has used his professional expertise in empowering affected communities and helping raise their issues through visual media.
“Visuals speak louder than words. Campaigns utilizing visual media are far more likely to get policy makers' interest or at least pull a heartstring that will emotionally bind them to the subject matter” said Damien Schumann.
“Visuals speak all languages making it easy to portray matters or actions and to educate. Visuals hold status that can be utilised to empower people or conditions. Processes of documentation can assist participants to come to terms with faced challenges. The process of making something is to pay attention to it and TB Photovoice is a good example” said Damien.
However we should be aware of misrepresentation while making visual exhibition, visuals used out of context or sensationalised can cause far more harm than good” cautioned Damien.
"We need to understand our audience: what is considered beautiful or appropriate to one is not necessarily the same to another. Visual media can help us design a campaign that our audience will respond to" said Damien. "We also need to think out of the box: the world is flooded with imagery, advertising and other things to seek attention, so make something that stands out" said Damien.
Bobby Ramakant - CNS
(The author is the Director of CNS Stop-TB Initiative and a recepient of World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General's WNTD Award 2008)
Source: Citizen News Service (CNS) - www.citizen-news.org