Djibouti

Encouraging healthcare-seeking behaviour in Djibouti

We are proud of our 19 newly trained peer health educators, committed to join our work and efforts to raise awareness about HIV, tuberculosis and malaria at the workplace and in Djibouti’s local communities. They are trained by healthcare experts to train their peers to disseminate accurate information through interactive activities, discussion, advocacy projects and social support to protect people from infectious diseases and inspire healthy behaviours. Peer health educators are approachable and have an impact on how their colleagues feel about infectious diseases and on what they will do about it when symptoms appear.

There are locations where traditional health care workers have difficult access, such as workplaces (i.e. hotels, harbours), migrant groups or marginalized groups. Peers health educators though may approach them through informal networks to create positive change in behaviours and social support. In Djibouti, our 30 peers are active at the workplace, harbours, schools, community centres and other public settings.

Peer Health Educators in Djibouti raise awareness about malaria

Since the beginning of the year, Djibouti suffers from a malaria outbreak which already took many victims since the beginning of the year. Although figures about the number of victims are flying around, we already know that the epidemic is of unprecedented size. Our peer health educators have now been trained in Malaria to raise awareness among their colleagues and in their neighbourhoods.

Malaria is preventable. People should have accurate knowledge about the disease and adopt the right attitude to protect themselves and their children. For that reason, our peer health educators who understand their community members’ fears and perceptions, provide accurate information to dismantle erroneous beliefs and attitudes about causes and transmission of malaria. Malaria is also curable. It’s therefore vital that they have the resources to help colleagues and neighbours in spotting the first symptoms of the disease so that they can be treated within 24 hours.

Street kids in Djibouti

More than 1100 homeless kids live in the streets of Djibouti, day and night. Most of them come from Ethiopia by foot and in small groups, lots without parents who pushed them onto the street because there were no resources to look after them. Others simply believed that Djibouti could offer them a better future. They sleep on the beach or near a disused railway station and manage to survive during the nights in a ruthless world. Without any form of identity, they have no right to exist and have no access to schools or healthcare facilities. So they live unprotected in the streets and are exposed to mainly three calamities: physical assault, glue sniffing and sexual abuse. Violence is never far off. Fortunately, some of those kids find their way to Caritas-Djibouti. This organisation shelters in average 80 children per day between 08:00 and 18:00 by offering food, hygiene and literacy and sport classes. Within these protecting walls, street kids are allowed to feel being a child again. In collaboration with Caritas-Djibouti, our peer health educators facilitate health workshops for these children, in particular to raise awareness about HIV and other communicable diseases.

Meet our new peer health education coordinator in Djibouti

Houssein Youssouf has been a successful peer health educator since the start of our programme in Djibouti. Dedication towards the most vulnerable people in his community drives him, while raising awareness about the many new cases of tuberculosis and HIV in his community has become his fully-fledged objective. As of the 1st of November, Houssein now organises and coordinates BE Health’s team activities at Djibouti Palace Kempinski and in his team’s local communities. During the coming year, Houssein and his team will address TB and HIV questions among their colleagues, as well as in high schools, in collaboration with Djibouti’s Ministry of Education. They also will facilitate health workshops with Caritas-Djibouti which takes care of more than 80 street kids every day. Houssein and his team know that clear communication and education will contribute to stop the transmission of Tb and HIV in their country.

DP World Doraleh partners with BE Health

This month marks the beginning of the BE Health Programme at our new Hosting Partner: DP World Doraleh. DP World is a container terminal employing more than a thousand employees in the port of Djibouti. The training sessions for the new peer health educators in tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS have already begun. Following these sessions, BE Health team will be strengthened with the energy and passion of 15 new peer educators eager to create positive change around them. Together with our local healthcare partners, BE Health activities will hence be extended to port workers’ local communities and amongst the truck drivers, freighting goods between Ethiopia and Djibouti’s port.

Abdullah is back to his TB medical treatment

It is in the Ambouli neighbourhood’s Community Health Centre in Djibouti where our peer educators Lydia, Fouad and Mohamed enquired about the list of TB patients who dropped out of their six-month medical treatment. They know it is vital for Djibouti’s population to get these patients back to proper medication to avoid the spread of TB. Abdullah was on the “lost TB patients” list and they decided to go to see him because he withdrew from his medication a few weeks previously.

They found a trembling young man with no strength left and who was coughing a lot. Abdullah lives in a small airless house without windows, which he shares with his parents and five other family members. He wouldn’t listen to his parents, who begged him to take up his treatment again. He ignored their cries, too weak to act in response. Lydia, though, knew what to do. Even though it took her some time and all her persuasion powers, she made him believe that not only he was a real danger to himself, but also that his illness was a threat to his whole family. He eventually followed Fouad to take a taxi to the hospital so that he could be re-examined and take up his medical treatment. Today, Abdullah still has a few months’ treatment to go but is on his way to being cured.

Port of Doraleh partners with BE Health

This month marks the beginning of the BE Health Programme at our new Hosting Partner: Port of Doraleh, which is a container terminal employing more than a thousand employees in the port of Djibouti. The training sessions for the new peer health educators in tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS have already begun. Following these sessions, BE Health team will be strengthened with the energy and passion of 15 new peer educators eager to create positive change around them. Together with our local healthcare partners, BE Health activities will hence be extended to port workers’ local communities and amongst the truck drivers, freighting goods between Ethiopia and Djibouti’s port.

Visit of UNAIDS’ Executive Director, Mr Michel Sidibé

On 11 October, BE Health’s peer educators in Djibouti had the chance to introduce themselves and their activities to ​Mr Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS’ Executive Director, as well as to ​Dr​ ​Yamina ​Cha​kkar​ UNAIDS’ regional director and Dr Dado Sy, UNAIDS’ representative in Djibouti. Mr Sidibé inspired BE Health’s entire team by sharing his long experience in how to best convey messages to prevent HIV from spreading in their communities. There is still a long way to go to stop the transmission of HIV in Djibouti. ​Mr Sidibé’s encouragement was therefore highly appreciated.

“BE Health is the kind of  public-private partnership that can inspire change and transform the lives of people affected by HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases. We can all play a part in creating a healthier world.”

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

Djibouti programme Up to Full Speed

With an estimation of more than 200 new tuberculosis cases every week, Djibouti’s citizens are almost used to living with the disease. Tuberculosis is part of their daily life and even called dahán (cough) amongst the Somali-speaking citizens. Most of the time, Djiboutians do not know what it implies to be infected by tuberculosis nor are they aware of its symptoms or the consequences of not completing a TB treatment course.
BE Health’s 22 peer educators in Djibouti reach out to colleagues at their workplace, family at home and their fellow community members to raise awareness about tuberculosis and HIV. Together, they connect with more than 300 people each month to pass on their knowledge and save TB patients who didn’t complete their six-month TB treatment course.
In collaboration with Djibouti’s Dr. Chakib Saad Omar tuberculosis hospital, BE Health’s peer educators will be instrumental in a locally designed programme to encourage patients to resume their medication.

Photo by Miriam Martinelli