Amaya Lacson Foundation Saves Lives for its Anti-TB Campaigns

Rachel C Orduno highly stressed within a pill is also our health. Rachel has completed anti-TB treatment (ATT) years back to encourage others who were on ATT. Some were reluctant to take the pills due to toxicity and side effects of ATT.

“Take the pills and get on with your lives,” said Rachel.

Rachel showed a photograph of all ATT pills for her family 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. The symposium is an act of advocacy, communication and social mobilization for Anti-TB campaigns.

Rachel C Orduno was introduced as a TB survivor. She continues today to strengthen social response to TB that complements the biomedical one in such a vital way through her testimonials.

She reported cough, night fevers, laryngitis, and other symptoms in the winter of 2003. In 2006, she expeienced symptoms of chest pain and 40 lbs weight loss. But no confirmed diagnosis from the doctor.

Rachel had faced the adverse impact of misdiagnosis, aggravated allergies, flu, sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, aspergillus and asthma through the years. She had diabetes since 2002.

Finally, on June 28, 2006, she was confirmed with active TB diagnosis. Soon thereafter, she was put on anti-TB treatment. She completed ATT for nine months.

She mentioned also the same situation with six of her family members who were 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. Amaya Lacson Foundation and its TB Photovoice initiative 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. Through pictures it will help them capture their own experiences with TB.

According to 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.

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 should be in control for one’s recovery.

“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,” said Rachel.

“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.

Schumann is a 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.

Schumann emphasized that visuals speak all languages making it easy to portray matters or actions and to educate. Visuals hold status that can be utilized to empower people. 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.

“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.

Schumann emphasized the need to understand the audience. Visual media can help design a campaign that the audience will respond to.

“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.