Ten days after 4,500 doctors went on a protest over a list of 10 long pending demands, including two months leave for tuberculosis treatment and lesser working hours, a first-year resident doctor, who joined KEM hospital last month from another government hospital, has been diagnosed with broncho-tuberculosis.
Resident doctors are now requesting the state government to speed up the process of sanctioning their demands which were approved in writing by Medical Education Minister Vinod Tawde. The meeting had been then called by the state government with an aim to end the strike that had continued for two days.
On Wednesday, the Medical Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) shot off another letter to Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) demanding implementation of the promised changes. Of the 10 demands they had presented, some of the demands that were approved were to provide two month maternity leave and two month leave for tuberculosis treatment.
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“According to Medical Council of India guidelines, the state government has the right to decide the number of leaves that can be granted to a medical student. While they (medical education department) have the powers, they are still delaying the whole process,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, MARD President.
The 22-year-old doctor, who was diagnosed with tuberculosis on July 10, has been put on medication since July 13. When she reportedly asked for leaves on July 11, the anaesthesia department head granted her leave only for 15 days. KEM hospital’s Dean, Dr Avinash Supe, however, said, “We will grant the doctor two months leaves, even more if needed. There will be no issues about that.” The doctor had joined the civic-run hospital recently and was diagnosed with the infection during the hospital’s screening. “She may have possibly contracted the infection before she started working at KEM,” Supe added.
A first-year resident doctor with an anaesthesia department is supposed to work for minimum 16 hours at a stretch at any tertiary-level hospital. According to fellow doctors, the 22-year-old had not been able to maintain proper diet which led to a weak immune system. Data gathered from MARD indicated that since 2012, at least 40 doctors have reportedly contracted tuberculosis, of which five are from Jamshedjee Jeejeebhoy, 15 from Sion, 11 from KEM and nine from Nair hospital. “At least 20 per cent of them are drug resistant tuberculosis cases,” Mundada said.
Dr Novhil Brahmankar, general secretary of MARD, said that over-worked doctors have little time to eat or rest. “Our health and immunity takes a hit,” he said.