Even as the civic body campaigns to get patients suffering from tuberculosis (TB) for their Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), their own doctors seem to be shunning the programme.
According to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), at least 7 of the 14 resident doctors diagnosed with tuberculosis at civic-run Sion Hospital are seeking treatment at private hospitals.
Owing to the increase in the number of patients being diagnosed with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, the civic body has initiated a special drive to encourage patients to reduce indiscriminate drug abuse, a cause of the disease.
“It is sad that our own students spend lakhs on treatment that is available for free. We feel the stigma attached to the disease is discouraging doctors from taking medicines from the hospital,” said Dr Suleman Merchant, dean in charge, Sion Hospital.
A female resident doctor from the hospital who was detected with multi-drug resistant TB three months ago said that she was not happy with the RNTCP programme. “I am not worried about other doctors knowing that I have TB. But, if I register with the hospital’s RNTCP programme, when I go back to my village in a tribal area, I will not get the medicines and will have to miss my dose. So, I opted to buy the drugs instead,” said the doctor, who spends more than Rs6,000 a month on her treatment.
Another resident doctor who was detected with TB said that he prefers to buy the drugs, as there is no time to go to the centre and take daily medicines.
Last week, an intern working at the hospital was diagnosed with tuberculosis and has been admitted to the hospital. “Every month at least two new doctors get diagnosed with TB. The pathetic living conditions with little ventilation in the hospital premises make resident doctors most vulnerable,” said a MARD official from Sion Hospital.