Resident doctors at PGIMER increasingly catching TB

Resident doctors at the Chandigarh’s tertiary care institute, the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), have been increasingly witnessing a rise in number of TB cases among the resident doctors. Only in the last two years, at least six resident doctors working at the Advanced Paediatrics Centre (APC) got infected with tuberculosis.
The facts are further confirmed statistically, with around 1,300 resident doctors working at the PGI, 2 to 3% (around 40) are suffering or have suffered from TB recently.
The prime reasons cited for this unprecedented rise in number of TB cases is non-availability of healthy diet, long working hours and poor working conditions.
At the ground level, the situation gets worst in various emergencies areas of the institute. The emergency unit is visited by almost 500 patients daily, who are suffering from TB. This puts the doctors at high risk as the TB bacteria spreads through sneezing or cough.
In the medicine department, three senior residents and 5-6 junior residents are suffering from tuberculosis and are undergoing treatment at the moment. They are suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, spinal TB, cardiac TB, TB of knee and intestinal TB.
On November 31, resident doctors had marked a letter to the PGI administration as well in this regard. “We even informed you (PGI administration) about many of our resident doctors who have acquired tuberculosis in the past due to non-availability of healthy diet. Good nutrition will provide us immunity from such occupational hazards,” reads the letter.
The letter further mentions, “This issue has already been brought to the notice of our additional medical superintendent Dr AK Bhalla, despite which no efforts have been made by the contractor to date to improve the quality of food.”
“In healthy people, infection often causes no symptoms, since the person’s immune system acts as a wall against the bacteria. But there is a greater risk of infection turning into disease among people with weakened immune system,” said former nodal officer, National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, Dr Anil Garg. “Long back, a study was also conducted at the PGI, which showed that doctors who work for long hours without having breakfast are more prone to developing TB,” he added.
PGI spokesperson was not available for comment despite repeated attempts.

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