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‘Take Immediate Action’: Sonia Gandhi to PM on rise in black fungus cases

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date
‘Take Immediate Action’: Sonia Gandhi to PM on rise in black fungus cases

As cases of Mucormycosis or “black fungus” rise across the country, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate action on the supply of Liposomal Amphotericin-B, an essential drug to treat the fungal infection being detected in Covid-19 patients.

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She requested the Centre to be ready with an adequate production and assured supply of essential medicines to treat the disease, as well as provide cost free patient care for those requiring treatment.

In a letter to the prime minister, she also pointed out that the illness is not covered under Ayushman Bharat and most other health insurance plans and sought immediate action on the issue.

Gandhi said the government had asked states to declare mucormycosis an epidemic under the Epidemic Diseases Act. This would mean that there must be adequate production and assured supply of essential medicines to treat it, and cost-free patient care for those in need of treatment, she added.

“I understand that Liposomal Amphotericin-B is absolutely essential for the treatment of Mucormycosis. However, there are reports of its acute scarcity in the market,” the Congress chief wrote in the letter.

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“Further, the illness is not covered in Ayushman Bharat and most other health insurance products. I would request you to kindly take immediate action on this matter to bring relief to the large number of patients being afficted by Mucormycosis,” she told the prime minister.

“In recent times a new challenge in the form of a fungal infection namely mucormycosis has emerged and is reported from many states among COVID-19 patients especially those on steroid therapy and deranged sugar control,” Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said in a letter to states on Friday.

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The Union Health Ministry on Friday said licence has been given to five more manufactures for production of Amphotericin-B and they will start producing 1,11,000 vials of the drug per month from July.

The five companies are: NATCO Pharmaceuticals, Hyderabad; Alembic Pharmaceuticals, Vadodara; Gufic Biosciences Ltd, Gujarat; Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Pune; and Lyka in Gujarat.

Efforts are being made to supplement the domestic availability of the anti-fungal drug through import, the Ministry said.

The disease, which can lead to blackening or discolouration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing blood, is linked to diabetes.

On Thursday, the Union Health Ministry made black fungus a notifiable disease, making it mandatory for states to report both suspected and confirmed cases to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).

Maharashtra has reported 1,500 cases and 90 deaths from the infection.

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Rajasthan and Telangana have already declared black fungus an epidemic. Tamil Nadu, with only nine reported cases so far, has also notified the disease under its Public Health Act.

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