Though state-of-the-art equipment like GeneXpert is available for the diagnosis of tuberculosis within two hours — the system can even tell whether the disease is in the initial stage or is the deadly MDR-TB — at the microbiology department of BJ Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, basic facilities like a healthy diet, air-conditioners, geysers, fans and clean linen remain elusive.
The TB patients are forced to live in abysmal conditions at the city’s largest state-run tertiary hospital. The patients are given daal-chawal and bread instead of high-protein diet like eggs required by them.
They are not provided clean linen and are forced to live in pathetic surroundings. “A TB patient needs at least four-five bedsheets in a day, which is not possible, and so sometimes patients are kept without any bedsheets,” a nurse in the TB ward said. “There is shortage of manpower as well; two people cannot take care of 20 patients.”
She said the relatives of the patients also do not bother to ensure they are comfortable. “The relatives of the patient admit them and leave them to us. No one takes care of them or even visits these patients. They just come to take away the patients once they are dead,” she said.
The air-conditioners in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for TB patients have not been in working condition for over four months now. The geysers in the washroom have not been functioning for five years.
This is the state of affairs even though it is said that TB patients should be kept in hygienic conditions and, preferably, given hot water for their bath. State joint director for tuberculosis and leprosy Dr Pradeep Gaikwad said TB patients need a healthy diet but not necessarily a high protein diet. He said the patients should be kept in well-ventilated rooms and in hygienic conditions.
“They should be provided regular medication too. Any state-run hospital is supposed to maintain all these norms," he said. Dr DG Kulkarni, medical superintendent, Sassoon, said a proposal for the repair of the air-conditioning system had been sent.
“We have sent a proposal for repairing the air-conditioners and these will be repaired within 10 days. As for food, we give eggs to patients who require it or who have been prescribed eggs by the doctors,” Kulkarni said.
The dean was unavailable for comment. “The dean and the head of the department (TB) are responsible for the proper care of the patients. It is their duty to check if the air-conditioners, fans and geysers are functioning or not and also to maintain the hygiene,” Dr Pravin Shingare, chief of Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), said. “If the machines are found to be not working, they will be repaired or replaced as per requirement. The food quality will be improved too.”
The span of time for which air-conditioners in the ICU for TB patients have not been in working condition
The span of time for which the geysers in the washroom of the Sassoon TB ward have not been functional