“If a worker dies of TB, the committee should be held accountable”

Blessina Kumar, chair, Global Coalition of TB Activists, discusses TB in healthcare workers and problems which need attention from government and hospitals

sakshi

Sakshi Kuchroo | June 1, 2016


#national tuberculosis control programme   #GTB hospital   #RNTCP   #WHO   #NITRD   #respiratory diseases   #tuberculosis   #TB   #XDR-TB   #TB activist  
Blessina Kumar, chair, Global Coalition of TB Activists
Blessina Kumar, chair, Global Coalition of TB Activists

The risk of TB infection among healthcare workers (HCWs) is largely understudied and preventive measures are clearly not in place. Blessina Kumar, chair, Global Coalition of TB Activists, discusses with Sakshi Kuchroo the problems in areas which need immediate attention from the government as well as the hospital managements.

What do you think is the reason for a continuous rise in the number of TB cases in healthcare workers?

We need to look at this problem at a different level. We need to understand the epidemiology of TB which clearly shows that TB causing bacteria is passed from person to person through air. So even if you breathe near a TB patient, you are at risk. So the first and foremost point that we need to focus on is infection control in hospitals. There is a need to address this issue especially in healthcare facilities where the risk is more.

How can hospitals make sure that there is 100 percent infection control?

By taking simple measures like making sure there is proper ventilation in rooms and providing workers with masks. All this will really help in curbing the infection. And let me tell you, there is a huge difference between the number of masks that the hospitals get and the number of masks that the workers receive. This is a scam. Not all of them have access to these masks. We can’t achieve 100 percent infection control till the time we don’t educate the healthcare workers, especially the sweepers and ward boys. There is not even an attempt to talk about TB. If you notice in hospitals, the posters providing information about TB are so ‘medicalised’ that it is difficult even for the medical staff to understand. Then how do they expect the sweepers who are in direct contact with TB patients to know about the disease and take appropriate measures?

There are some hospitals that claim TB has a social stigma attached to it. They claim that healthcare workers, if infected with TB, hide the fact because they fear their loved ones will leave them. What do you think about this?

This is just a blame game. Why is there a stigma? Have the hospital managements tried to address this issue? This whole thing of ‘we have done our bit’ and ‘blame it on the workers’ is just sad and not acceptable. It is high time that people are held accountable. Every hospital has a monitoring committee. If a worker dies of TB, the committee should be held accountable. Ask them how it happened, why it happened, what was the treatment given. Due to lack of awareness, there are no questions asked from the workers also, so the management gets away with it.

What can these workers do to help themselves?

They are disempowered. Alone, they can’t fight it. We need to educate them and empower them. They first need to know about all the precautionary steps that should be taken while on the job. Even after that if they catch TB, there should get the whole treatment and it is possible only if we counsel them. The problem with TB treatment is that it is difficult and it goes on for a long period of time, so patients stop taking medicines after a while. So counselling is very important, not only to educate them about getting a full-fledged treatment but also for their mental and emotional support.

The ministry of health and family welfare is planning fresh guidelines for healthcare givers who deal with TB patients. Do you think that will help in infection control?

What are the guidelines going to do? Hospitals already have a set of guidelines put up on their walls. What difference are a few more going to make? The solution is not ideating how to solve the problem, the solution lies in implementation at the grassroots level. You can have the best of guidelines and yet have thousands die from TB infection every year. Hospitals need to pull up their socks and start taking this problem seriously; otherwise we are just wasting our time.
 

(The interview appears in the June 1-15, 2016 issue)

Comments

 

Other News

This Mumbai NGO empowers children with skills

When Dharmendra Pandey, a fruit-seller had to leave Mumbai after the imposition of the lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, and return to his village in Uttar Pradesh, he was staring at economic uncertainties ahead. Little did he know that his 16-year-old son, Mahavir, had acquired skills that would come

Masks: Awareness: near-total, compliance: half-way

Wearing a face mask is the first line of defence against the novel coronavirus, along with maintaining social distance and frequently washing hands with soap. More than six months after the outbreak of Covid-19, nearly 90 percent of people in India have become aware of the necessity of wearing a face mask,

Covid-19: Daily recoveries cross 1 lakh mark, new cases far fewer

Is India finally gaining an upper hand over the Covid-19 pandemic? After weeks of new cases hitting 90,000-plus every day, the tide seems to be turning, as the number came down to 75,083 on Tuesday, and the recoveries were not only higher than that but crossed the 1 lakh mark too. The countr

A travelogue of an inner pilgrimage

Sit Your Self Down A Novice’s Journey into the Heart of Vipassana By Gayatri Jayaraman Hachette India, 212 pages, Rs 399   As stress and strife increase in daily life, more and more people are turning to meditation as an all

Vote in the time of Covid: EC hosts global webinar

On completion of one year of the chairmanship of the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB), the Election Commission (EC) of India on Monday hosted an international webinar on the theme of “Issues, Challenges and Protocols for Conducting  Elections during COVID-19 : Sharing Country

Freedom of press in India is a myth: Tewari

Sections of the news media have degenerated into becoming the pet performing poodle of the government, says Manish Tewari, former information and broadcasting minister and a member of the Lok Sabha. In a webinar chat with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now, on Friday as part of the Vis

Governance Now Tech Masterclass State Governments

Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter