A resident doctor from the chest medicine department of Sir JJ Hospital, Byculla, was detected with tuberculosis (TB) last week. The hospital authorities have sent the postgraduate student back home to recover.
Dr TP Lahane, dean of the hospital, said the student was responding well to the first-line of anti-TB drugs. “If needed, we can consider more leave for him,” said Lahane.
In the past few years, an increasing number of resident doctors from medical colleges in the city have contracted drug-resistant TB.
The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) stated around 21 resident doctors in Mumbai had contracted the disease in the past two years.
Long working hours and high exposure to TB patients in the hospitals put resident doctors at a higher risk, said experts. Scarcity of good quality masks results in transmission of infection.
Poor nutrition is another cause. Resident doctors tend to have fewer meals as a result of hectic work schedule and night shifts. This reduces their immunity and makes them vulnerable to various infections.
As resident doctors are not employees of the government, there is no provision to grant them sick leave if they are diagnosed with TB, MARD officials said.
“We have proposed special leave for resident doctors who contract TB. In Mumbai, it is a major issue and the administration should consider a two-month special leave for them,” said Dr Mandar Baviskar, general secretary, MARD.
At present, if a resident doctor contract TB, he or she can utilise earned and casual leaves. If MARD officials are to be believed, at least five to six resident doctors are undergoing TB treatment at any given time in the city’s medical colleges. “TB is a major stigma. A majority of these doctors are of marriageable age and hence take the treatment secretly. Most consult private doctors,” said a MARD official.