Caregivers face a higher risk

Namrata Devikar
Sunday, 24 March 2019

Prevention is must against the infectious disease like tuberculosis 

Pune: A 28-year-old resident doctor from a general hospital in the State is struggling to cope with his studies, working hours and Multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Originally from Nagaland, the doctor came to Maharashtra in 2016 for further education. In the second half of 2018, he was in his home town on leave to take care of his health. 

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the doctor said that he joined the hospital again in January this year. “Between June 2018 to December 2018, I was at home because my overall health condition was very bad. I had a few symptoms but due to work and studies, I neglected them. Later, after getting a few tests done, I was tested positive for MDR-TB,” said the doctor. 

He further added that he might have got TB while he was working in the hospital. “We frequently go to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and many undiagnosed patients of TB are present there. It might be a reason why I got the disease. There are many other doctors, who are tested positive for TB,” said the doctor. The 28-year-old doctor is now taking his treatment under the Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP). 

Talking about the caregivers, who are at a greater risk, Dr Sanjay Gaikwad from Pulmonary Department of the Sassoon General Hospital (SGH) said that many doctors while treating the patients get the disease.

“Tuberculosis is a ticking bomb for everyone today. And caregivers like doctors, nurses and family members are at greater risk, as they are around the patient. The first and foremost step we take at our hospital is to sensitise the new doctors as well as interns and advise them to wear masks at all times,” said Gaikwad. 

He also added that many people, who were earlier infected but did not have the disease, show symptoms later in life.
“We see a lot of people, who have tuberculosis but do not show symptoms until very late. Hence, we can safely say that the incidence is much higher. What is more alarming is that there are patients who are multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant. They do not have a treatment as of now that can fully cure them. The focus of every scheme and initiative should be prevention,” said Gaikwad.
He further added that until the government scheme emphasises on covering one’s mouth while sneezing or coughing, there is no end to the spread of infectious disease like tuberculosis. 

“TB spreads through the air. And hence the people have to be sensitised about using a handkerchief while sneezing and coughing to avoid these harmful germs from spreading further. This is primary prevention. Unless it is in place, stopping TB is next to impossible,” said Gaikwad. 

The growing menace of TB
According to the World Health Organisation, Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that is caused by a bacterium, which resulted in estimated 10.4 million new cases in 2016 and 1.7 million deaths.

Over 90 per cent of TB cases occur in low and middle income countries that have fragile healthcare infrastructures and constrained resources available, and therefore struggle to tackle one of the world’s deadliest communicable diseases.

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