Abbas Shaikh has signed at least four consent forms at PD Hinduja Hospital ratifying that there is no known form of treatment available to cure his 40-year-old wife Shabana (names changed), who was recently detected with totally drug resistant tuberculosis (TDR-TB).
“I have signed four to five forms after the doctors explained that no form of treatment is available for my wife. I have no idea how to help her,” said Shaikh, a tailor who works in Crawford Market.
Shabana, who used to live in Uttar Pradesh, was detected with TB eight years ago. “I can barely move without feeling dizzy. I think I am going to die soon,” said Shabana. She has now moved in with her husband at Wadala for treatment in Mumbai. The couple has two sons and a daughter.
Shabana is among the 12 patients detected with TDR-TB at the Mahim hospital. “We are giving them a salvage regime of every possible TB drug that has been written about in the scientific journals. These drugs, however, have severe side effects. We also undertake aggressive surgeries which have worked on some patients,” said Dr Zarir F Udwadia, consultant physician at PD Hinduja Hospital.
Dr Udwadia has coauthored a scientific paper on TDR-TB with Dr Camilla Rodrigues, head of microbiology department at the hospital, and their students, Dr Rohit Amale and Kanchan Ajbani.
The paper notes that the patients received erratic, unsupervised second-line drugs, prescribed individually and in incorrect doses, from multiple practitioners. These patients were already suffering from multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB, a condition in which patients do not respond to two of the best TB drugs. The wrong treatment led to TDR-TB, it says.
The hospital had earlier conducted a study, which showed only five of the 106 private medical practitioners in Dharavi could prescribe correct medicines for an MDR-TB patient.
Dr Udwadia blames the failing Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (Dots) treatment programme run by the state for the rise in drug resistance in tuberculosis. “If a patient is resistant to the first line of treatment, he is not tested for MDR-TB soon enough. This delay increases drug resistance,” said Dr Udwadia.