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Mumbai: Sewri TB hospital struggles with a skeletal staff

Updated on: 19 August,2022 08:27 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Suraj Pandey | suraj.pandey@mid-day.com

Fear, stigma keep health workers away from the BMC-run facility; half of doctors’ posts vacant

Mumbai: Sewri TB hospital struggles with a skeletal staff

The Sewri TB hospital is now treating 404 patients. File pic

The Sewri TB hospital may be one of Mumbai’s biggest dedicated facilities in the city’s fight against tuberculosis, but it is struggling with a crippling manpower crunch. More than half of the doctors’ posts are vacant, while a third of all positions are waiting to be filled. Current and former officials said fear and stigma are major factors behind the hospital’s skeletal strength.
Data accessed by mid-day from the BMC shows that of the 1,207 total posts, including that of doctors, nurses, paramedical and administration employees, 399 are vacant. 

TB is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs. At present, 404 patients are being treated at the Sewri hospital. Sources said TB screening and treatment took a hit for two years during the COVID pandemic. Of the 73 posts for doctors, 40 are vacant. 

A member of the Municipal Majdoor Union said 22 staffers contracted the disease and 4 succumbed to the infection in the past five years. “Due to COVID, the routine TB checkup of the staff had come to a halt. In 2021-22, seven employees tested positive for TB. While the routine check-up of the staff has resumed, the heavy workload is affecting their health. They are only hiring contractual employees.”

Dr Lalit Anande, former superintendent of the hospital, said the job is risky. “The bacteria is already present in our body, it all depends on our immunity. Even if we eat healthy food and follow the protocol, if there is stress then it will affect our immunity and the bacteria will get active.”

Dr Anande said the government should come up with incentives, higher pay or fewer work hours to cut the chances of infections, to attract potential employees. The present superintendent did not respond to calls and messages.

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