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X-ray technician at Sewri TB Hospital succumbs to disease

The Class IV employee’s death the fourth death this year highlights the poor working conditions at the hospital yet again

A 50-year-old X-Ray technician succumbed to multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) on Thursday, highlighting yet again, the poor working conditions in the civic-run Sewri TB Hospital.

Ramesh Jadhav, who was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday, is the fourth employee to succumb to the airborne disease in 2014. Since 2005, 42 employees of the hospital, including doctors, nurses and ward boys have succumbed to the disease.

Earlier this year, two ward boys and a sweeper had died after battling drug-resistant TB, said Pradeep Narkar, secretary of the Municipal Mazdoor Union (MMU). “Jadhav was diagnosed with MDR-TB a year ago. His condition had worsened recently.

He was declared dead between 10 am and 11 am on Thursday. He is survived by his son, who also happens to work at the same hospital as a ward boy, on contract basis,” said Narkar.

Jadhav’s last rites were conducted in the city on the same day. While he used to live in the hospital’s residential quarters after his wife’s death, he had shifted to his own house a while ago.

Senior doctors of the hospital have raised concerns about how not only doctors and nurses, but Class IV workers are constantly exposed to the bacilli from patients admitted to the hospital. Affected staff members include lab technicians, administrative staff, sweepers and cleaners.

Speaking to mid-day, a ward boy from the hospital said, “I have been working here for the last one year. We keep hearing about some staff member going on leave due to TB. We know the risk of working at this hospital and contracting the disease, but most of us have no other option to go elsewhere to earn a living.”

BMC speak
When contacted, Sanjay Deshmukh, additional municipal commissioner (health), said he could not comment on this issue over the phone and would give further details on the BMC’s plan to tackle it, in the near future.

Clear and present danger
>> Till March this year, 46 employees of the hospital had tested positive for TB; this has now shot up to 52

>> Of the affected staff (medical and non-medical), 27 tested positive for MDR-TB, which requires two years of treatment.

>> Doctors say that the number of employees battling the airborne disease is much higher, as many of them avoid undergoing screenings conducted at the TB hospital itself.

>> While screenings are conducted every three months, as per data obtained from the Sewri TB hospital, in 2011, out of 801 staff members screened, only 11 patients tested positive for TB. The number drastically increased to 73 of 834 employees testing positive in 2013

52
Number of staff members at Sewri TB Hospital who have tested positive for the disease this year

42
Number of staffers (doctors, nurses, ward boys) who have succumbed to TB since 2005

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