Celebration of the World TB Day is placed under the sign of COVID-19

The COVID-19 has disrupted the world in which we live. We are experiencing an exceptional situation dictating exceptional measures to stem the progress of the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, our teams stand in solidarity with all those fighting against the pandemic and deploy their efforts to prevent the disease, in combination with their fight against TB, in one of Bangkok’s most densely populated neighbourhood, Khlong Toei.

Like COVID-19, TB is also a respiratory disease but is preventable and treatable. And although the world’s attention is drawn to the devastating impact of COVID-19, we cannot disregard the fact that more than 10 million people are infected with TB every year, killing 1.5 million amongst them.

Our community health volunteers raise awareness about COVID-19 and TB on 24, 25, 26 and 27 March in Khlong Toei by distributing, door-to-door, clear pockets containing a mask, soap, hand gel and information leaflets about both diseases. Their knowledge on TB prevention as well as their skills and prevention tools have become solid support to combat COVID-19 amongst the poor and vulnerable population of Khlong Toei.

Witnessing peer health educators’ work in Djibouti

Observing peer health educators’ work in the community and understanding the challenges they meet was in Henk Meyknecht’s mind when he accompanied them on 25 July during one of their raising-awareness sessions in Djibouti. As Kempinski’s COO Middle East and Africa and member of the management board of Kempinski Hotels, he knows that it isn’t easy to openly talk about HIV and sexual behaviours in traditional communities. “I find it personally very brave for the peer health educators in Djibouti to go out and meet people in public areas or community centres to discuss health topics which are very personal and intimate, and often very sensitive.” But Henk also admits that there is a strong need for increased levels of information and education as lots of people are still not aware of the health risks related to TB and HIV. “What I witnessed that day clearly confirms the value of the peer health educators’ work and we must raise additional funds to extend the positive impact of BE Health’s programme in Djibouti”.

Together with the entire team in Djibouti, we would like to thank Henk Meyknecht for his deep interest and thoughtfulness for our work and outcomes. It’s simply inspiring.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a way to give back to the community

Bernold Schroeder is Kempinski’s COO Europe and Vice Chairman of the Management Board of Kempinski Hotels. Hand in hand with Monika Tritz, Regional Director Operations Europe, he actively supports BE Health fund collection in the European hotels, which partially finance the non-profit association’s activities. Bernold understands well the importance of engaging with the community.  “It’s not only the quality of product and services that drive performance at Kempinski. A positive social and environmental impact has a multiplier effect on financial results. Numerous studies show that two-third of customers won’t hesitate to spend more for products and services produced by reputable brands. This is particularly true for the millennial population who will be our hotel guests of tomorrow. Generating social good makes sense because everyone benefits. For us as luxury hoteliers it makes good business sense to support causes that matter to our employees and customers, and to maintain strong relationships with the local community. At the same time, BE Health receives the necessary financial resources, endorsement and awareness to achieve its mission for those in need. We are proud to support BE Health to spread health in local communities.”

An exceptional draw to win a signed shirt from famous football players

The Adlon Kempinski hotel team is aware that each penny counts to pilot impoverished tuberculosis patients through their 6-month treatment. That’s why they considered the final of 75th German Cup a perfect opportunity to raise some money and organised a prize draw to win a competition shirt signed by all players of each team (Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt). Their colleagues in Munich and Frankfurt helped them to collect every single signature on the shirts which were exposed in the lobby. Until the very last minute before the competition on 19 May, hotel guests were invited to participate by donating five Euros against one entry into the draw.  

Thanks to the hotel team’s commitment and drive for wanting to make a difference for those in need for concrete support, and the participation of their guests, we are now able to provide social protection to an additional TB patient living in Khlong Toei.

A Thai wrap and an African Burger make a difference

We want to warmly thank Mirjam and Christian Schickmayr for their wonderful initiative to support our activities in a very special way! Every day, their food truck stands outside on Hellweg’s parking space in Bad Kissingen, where they sell dishes and snacks which respect cooking recipes inherited from different cultures. Since a few weeks, our member’s employees have 2 additional options for lunch as Mirjam and Christan have created a spicy “Thai Wrap” and an exotic “African Burger” both reminding flavours from Bangkok and Djibouti. Mirjam and Christian donate one Euro for each Thai wrap and African burger sold. We are very much grateful for their generous support and greatly admire their entrepreneurial creativeness.

Business engagement in health

Exploring opportunities for Swiss corporations to engage in health stood at the centre of Swiss Malaria Group’s Corporate Forum, held on 26 January at Grand Hotel Kempinski in Geneva and organised in collaboration with BE Health. Together, we can do much more was the leading motto of the discussion between Swiss corporations and public health organisations. Companies cannot be functioning in isolation from the communities where they are operating, particularly in countries where the burden of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria is still high. This is also true for Kempinski. Its hotel operations fully depend on local employees, while local guests also fuel its business. Kempinski’s CEO, Markus Semer, stated that “our employees are exposed to infectious diseases and we needed a ready-to-implement solution to fix the problem; that’s the reason why we co-founded BE Health. BE Health offers a straightforward solution for detecting and preventing infectious diseases among our employees and communities”. Companies can bring more than donations. Companies can address their business context with business competences and relationships to create a positive change and social benefits in businesses’ communities.

Besides Swiss companies such as Firmenich, LafargeHolcim, Novartis and Syngenta, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the Global Fund and MMV as well the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute also participated in this first Corporate Forum to encourage corporations to engage in health.

Many thanks to the commitment of Hellweg’s store teams!

Hellweg’s store teams are part of achieving our mission and we want to warmly thank them. The team in Hagen (see photo) aspires to actively help TB patients in Bangkok and Djibouti. They believe that giving can be a joy and is a way to create the change they want to see. They therefore found a new fundraising way to associate with their customers by organising a customer raffle this summer. They sold raffle lots, allowing customers to win various prizes from the store. Within a few days, EUR 3,150 was collected. This amount allows BE Health to train at least 50 Community Health Volunteers from Khlong Toei in Bangkok.

Hellweg’s team in Bonn-Duisdorf devoted their efforts to collecting extra funds by holding for the first time an auction for a bicycle, a high-pressure cleaner and a barbecue. Customers played the game! And Hellweg’s team was able to collect EUR 250, which will greatly help to support the screening of TB patients’ family members.

Once again, many thanks to all store teams for their efforts and engagement!