Mumbai : Dr Sumidha Khandekar’s death due to TB is not an isolated case. It has come to light that over 13 doctors from Sion hospital are also suffering from TB while around 25 doctors from Nair, Sion and KEM have already gone through the treatment for TB in the last three months.
In wake of the sudden demise of Dr. Sumidha, BMC authorities have to conduct TB detection camps in civic hospitals every three months. However, doctors feel that a lot more should be done by the BMC for eradicating TB which is proliferating amongst doctors.
Around 441 doctors have been accommodated in 120 rooms of Nair hospital. Over five to eight doctors live in one small room of the hostel, which does not even have proper ventilation. Doctors have gone hoarse crying for proper accommodation since 8 to 10 years, but the authorities have yet to do something.
Authorities have promised that they will construct a new building by next year. “After five years of efforts KEM has constructed a residential building for doctors. That also cannot accommodate all the doctors. Many doctors are living here in Nair hospital and commute from to and fro. For a simple repair work we have to wait for six months. We don’t trust these promises.” said Dr Swapnil Kulkarni, spokesperson for MARD from Nair hospital
Apart from rooms, the basic facility of clean toilets has not been made available to the resident doctors. The toilets of Nair hospital are under renovation since three months. However, the students have not been provided with any alternative arrangements. The bathrooms and toilets are in a very filthy state. The floors are dug out and there are no tubelights or water. “We very rarely get water. We have to wake up early in the morning for using toilets to relieve ourselves. Around 441 doctors use 12 bathrooms,” he added.
“A single droplet of saliva has active TB bacteria for seven months. So, if a person with TB coughs around us, we carry that bacteria with us to our rooms and we too get TB. We live in rooms which have no ventilation. All of us are still highly susceptible to the disease, living in such circumstances. I am a pulmonary specialist. I treat around 5 to 6 patients of TB everyday. I can get it anytime as there is no hygiene around,” said Dr. Kulkarni.
Besides hygiene, the tough working hours of doctors is another major issue they want to be addressed by the authorities. The civic hospitals in Mumbai get maximum numbers of patients every year. The working hours of doctors in all hospitals extend from 36 hours to 48 hours. “We have to work continuously and do not even get a day off. We don’t get time for having proper diet or cleanliness. If we visit the hospital without having proper diet, the chances of contracting TB rises to 90%,” said Dr Kulkarni.
Mumbai is the hub for medical students as it has the best and the most number of medical college in India. However, resident doctors in Mumbai are paid the least stipend and work almost four times than their counterparts in other states.
“We get Rs 5,500 as stipend here. In Delhi, the stipend is Rs 35,000 and in Uttar Pradesh it is Rs 25,000. We work for 48 hours in Mumbai whereas in other states the doctors strictly work for 8 hours and at maximum for 12 hours in emergency cases,” said Dr Kapil Iyer of Nair hospital.
Meanwhile, Dr. Avinash Supe, dean of Sion hospital made rounds of the Sion hostel today. “I know the conditions are bad but everything takes time. After the construction of a tower, doctors will get their space. The problem is that when these hostels were constructed we just had to accommodate the clinical doctors. Now we have to take in doctors from every department. The solution will be reached shortly.”
About the working hours, he said, “We cannot help it. The doctors are here to learn. It’s not that we have shortage of doctors but generally the junior doctors look after the patients of senior doctors. They will have to settle it.” The doctors meanwhile said otherwise, “We are overworked because Mumbai gets maximum number of patients from the smaller regions too. Even the senior ones are overworked,” said Kulkarni.
A doctor suffering from TB said, “I don’t remember from where I contracted this disease. TB is a major cause of illness and death worldwide, especially in Africa and Asia. Each year the disease kills almost 2 million people. We are doctors. The doctors look after most of the administration in our residential hostels. How can they be so ignorant of the basic precaution?”