A medical officer at JJ Hospital’s Anti-Retroviral Ther-apy (ART) centre, accused of dispensing herbal medicines to HIV patients, has been transferred out of the hospital.
The Mumbai District Aids Control Society (MDACS) has instituted an inquiry into the allegations made by three senior doctors working as nodal officers at the JJ centre that medical officer Dr Pritish Jalgaonkar was found giving herbal medicines to patients.
Upset with Dr Jalgaonkar, nodal officer Dr VK Joglekar and alternate nodal officers Dr Vidya Nagar and Dr Priya Patil submitted their resignations to both the
National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) and the hospital dean. In their letters, the doctors had said Dr Jalgaonkar had been prescribing costly herbal medicines to HIV patients, which is not permitted under NACO guidelines.
The trio, in their complaint, has alleged that when they questioned the dispensing of herbal medicines, the medical officer in question had started sending them threatening messages, which forced them to resign.
The centre is treating around 7,000 HIV patients taking first-line drugs and around 1,100 patients on second-line drugs. Byculla hospital’s ART centre is the only nodal centre in the state to screen and select patients for second line ART treatment.
“We cannot allow doctors to give herbal drugs to HIV patients. We had recommended MDACS to immediately remove him from our centre,” said Dr TP Lahane, dean of JJ Hospital.
Dr Jalgaonkar, said, “I have not given herbal medicines to a single patient. If they can prove that I gave herbal drugs to patients I am ready to face punishment. If the doctors who have made the allegation fail to prove it then they should be punished.”
Dr Arun Bamne, project director, MDACS, said, “We are probing the allegations and necessary action will be taken if the allegations are proved.”