Deccan Herald (02.18.2014)
The Deccan Herald reported that TB Health Visitors (TBHV), doctors, activists, and social workers working for India’s Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP) in the state of Karnataka feared they would acquire TB and other respiratory infections because they lacked adequate safety gear. TBHVs cited aprons, gloves, and N95 masks as equipment needed to protect them from potentially fatal Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Approximately 175 TBHVs provided TB education and visited patients’ homes to observe them taking TB medications. Some patients had multidrug-resistant TB. The TBHVs also charged that RNTCP did not allow them to take sick leave.
Approximately 175 laboratory technicians also feared contracting TB from patients’ sputum because of inadequate safety gear. The technicians demanded aprons and N95 masks. Dr. Satish B R, medical professional for the District Tuberculosis Control Unit, recommended that all TB workers use N95 masks and discard them every six hours. The unit currently used “normal masks,” even during H1N1 outbreaks.
Dr. Shashidhar Buggi, the director of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, countered that workers received three layered masks daily, which they could throw away at the end of each day. He recommended that patients also wear masks during H1N1 outbreaks. Buggi stated doctors should wash their hands often and ask patients not to spit.