Official apathy hits TB patients in Pathanamthitta

Tuberculosis patients in Pathanamthitta are pleading for the mercy of the State Heatlh authorities. Thanks to the sorry state of affairs with the District Tuberculosis Centre (DTC) attached to the District Hospital at Kozhencherry.

Patients are put to hardship allegedly due to the absence of doctors, laboratory technicians and other healthcare personnel at DTC.

Talking to The Hindu at the DTC on Monday, many TB patients have lamented on their sad plight due to the absence of the District Tuberculosis Officer (DTO) and laboratory technicians at the centre.

The staff at DTC too are scared of keeping the centre open in the absence of doctors and lab technicians, fearing a “verbal backlash” from “agitated” patients, many of whom come from distant places in Pathanamthitta, Kollam, Alappuzha and parts of Idukki district.

Pilot project

It is noteworthy that the World Health Organisation had taken up the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) in Pathanamthitta as a model project in the entire country in 1994.

The success of the pilot project in the hill district has made the WHO-Health Department combine to extend the RNTCP to all the other 13 districts in the State later in 2000. The RNTCP had recorded over 90 per cent cure rate in Pathanamthitta mainly due to the commitment and teamwork of the medical and paramedical team at the DTC.

District Medical Officer, A.R. Ayshabai and Deputy DMO, Ajakumari have inspected the TB Centre the other day following complaints against the District TB Officer N. Kumaresan (a radiologist) from patients only to witness the sad plight of the patients there. The DMO told The Hindu that she has already sent a detailed report on the issues facing the DTC to the Health Secretary and Director Of Health Services for necessary action.

There were also allegations that the doctor at DTC is keener on doing private assignments, sidelining the functioning of the DTC and at the expense of the patients.

A hospital staff alleged that the doctor who had undergone post-graduation in the service quota was consciously creating problems in an attempt to invite disciplinary action so that he could overcome the legal complications involved in exiting from the Health Service before the compulsory service tenure fixed by the government.

Defunct X-Ray unit

Mr. M.A. Joseph, Hospital Development Committee member, said the X-Ray unit at the DTC has not been functioning since the past one year.

“Criminal proceedings should be initiated against the responsible quarters for sidelining their duty to provide proper care to the poor TB patients, instead of mere disciplinary action,” said a patient.