The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Union government to submit details of the quantity of anti-fungal drugs allocated to various states for treating Mucormycosis or Black Fungus, a rare infection found in recovering or recovered COVID-19 patients.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni said it wanted to ascertain whether the Union government was ensuring an "equitable distribution" of drugs based on the number of active cases of Mucormycosis in each state.
In the course of hearing on a plea, the bench suggested allocation of more quantity of anti-fungal drugs to Maharashtra given the number of Mucormycosis cases reported in the state.
The bench said that the central government must give wide publicity to its advisory on preventing and managing Mucormycosis, also called "Black Fungus".
It said the government must give publicity to the dos and don'ts of Mucormycosis and ensure that citizens followed them "scrupulously."
The bench was hearing a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The high court was hearing submissions from the Maharashtra government and the Centre on current cases of Mucormycosis and Aspergillosis (also a type of fungal infection) and the state's preparedness for an anticipated third wave of COVID-19.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, who appeared for the Maharashtra government, told the high court that as on June 1, the state had a total of 5,126 cases of Mucormycosis.
Kumbhakoni said 42 government hospitals and 419 private hospitals across the state were currently treating Mucormycosis patients.
He said Maharashtra is expected to receive 40,000 doses of an anti-fungal drug, Amphotericin-B, that is being produced in-house by the state in association with Mumbai- based pharma company Haffkine.
As per the state's submissions, Nagpur, Pune, Aurangabad, Solapur and Nashik districts had the highest number of Mucormycosis cases in Maharashtra.
The Union government's counsel, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, told the high court there were a total of 28,252 cases of Mucormycosis in the country currently.
At this, the bench said considering the large number of cases of the fungal infection in Maharashtra, the Union government must allocate it adequate quantity of drugs.
Mr Singh said the Centre's allocation for anti-Mucormycosis drugs for Maharashtra so far was over 91,000 vials.
The court, however, noted that the state had placed an order over and above the Centre allocation of medicines.
"There is a shortage of drugs in Maharashtra. How many cases are there in other states? At least a quarter of the allocation of the country should come to Maharashtra," the bench observed.
"So you have to show us the numbers. How many patients are there in other states? We want to see if there is an equitable allocation," it said.
The high court directed the Maharashtra government to submit details of the number of paediatric beds and drugs, among other resources, available across the state for treating cases of COVID-19 among children.
The high court will continue hearing the plea on June 10.
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