Tuberculosis is a problem in any congregate setting. A monastery like Rumtek is a crowded place and in winter has little ventilation. When someone coughs, aerosol droplets persist for some time making infection with tuberculosis more likely. This is especially the case when we have people with undiagnosed and untreated infections.
Monks travel and sometimes have difficulty in completing medication regimes which can be very complicated when it comes to tuberculosis. Interrupted treatments create an opportunity for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.
Sikkim, the state where Rumtek is found, has one of the highest number of cases of TB in India. The state also has one of the highest proportions of drug resistant tuberculosis.
The North East Region Bio Technology Programmme Management Cell (NER-BPMC), Department of Biotechnology in collaroration with Revised National Tuberculosis Program (RNTCP), Government of Sikkim and International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotenchnology (ICGEB), New Delhi has proposed that Tso Jey Clinic nurses, doctor and staff be a part of the research planned to discover why this population is susceptible to tuberculosis and particularly drug resistant tuberculosis. The monastic population would be screened and treated in ways never before possible.
We are hoping that this proposal goes forward and that we will see an end to multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Rumtek.