LAHORE: Five Mayo Hospital doctors have been diagnosed with tuberculosis in the last one month, The Express Tribune has learnt.
This situation reflects on poor sanitation and safety conditions at public hospitals of the Punjab. Dr Amir Ryaz, who got infected with TB while performing some procedures on patients, told this reporter that most of the doctors were infected with TB at the general ward. He said the general ward had always been short of protective gear. He said poor sanitation had been a permanent feature at most wards of the hospital. “They do not provide us even N95 respirators required for procedures,” he said.
“I strongly believe that there are a lot more cases of early stage active tuberculosis that doctors at Mayo Hospital overlook. The disease spreads slowly and becomes aggressive only later,” he said. Dr Nadia Saleem* said many cases of early-stage pulmonary tuberculosis went undiagnosed. She said, “I contracted TB during house job at Mayo. When I was diagnosed after marriage, it spoiled my marriage. My in-laws forced my husband to divorce me. They accused my parents of concealing my illness at the time of our engagement. There were moments when I seriously thought about committing suicide.”
She said that hospitals should have proper ventilation, but it was lacking at Mayo. “The ventilation system became dysfunctional long ago. This is the reason doctors are getting infected with TB and other diseases,” she said.
Prof Saqib Saeed, head of the TB ward at Mayo Hospital, said that most of these doctors had contracted the disease while working at surgery and medicine wards. He said the TB ward of Mayo Hospital was following standard operating procedures with regard to treatment of patients. He said the TB ward had a ventilation system. He said no doctor was infected with TB at the ward.
Health Department spokesperson Akhlaq Ali Khan said the department had allocated a hefty amount for sanitation at hospitals. He said that protective gear was available at all hospitals. He said that out-of-order ventilation system at some wards would be fixed soon.
“There have been some cases of communicable diseases but Health Department’s overall performance cannot be called into question due to those cases,” he said. He said that some doctors might have contracted the disease due to their negligence.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2016.
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