Amid the rising cases of Mucormycosis, or Black Fungus, the Union Health Ministry on Saturday said the availability of Amphotericin-B, the key drug to treat the deadly disease is now being increased and the Ministry is in touch with five additional manufacturers.
"Amphotericin B was available in the country in limited supply. Its availability and supply is now being increased. Ministry of Pharma is coordinating with Ministry of Health for providing licence to five additional manufacturers," Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry, said.
Talking about the existing manufacturing capacity Mr Agarwal said, "The existing manufacturers are working towards increasing their capacity and production capacity."
During the press interaction, the Health Ministry also briefed that states are advised towards the need for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) to manage fungal infections in health facilities like establishing/activating the Hospital Infection Control Committee, taking transmission-based precautions with focus on droplet, airborne and contacts to protect healthcare workers and ensure patient safety; ensuring effective Biomedical Waste Management and Enhanced IPC practices in ICU, Labs, etc. with focus on immuno-compromised patients, on steroid treatment and with comorbidities.
Earlier in the day, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers DV Sadananda Gowda announced an allocation of 23,680 additional vials of Amphotericin- B to various states and Union territories.
The allocation has been made based on the total number of patients, the minister informed in the official release.
Mucormycosis is a rare fungal disease commonly being detected in the Covid-19 patients who are in the recovery phase.
Doctors are linking the sudden surge in Mucormycosis cases to the use of steroids to treat Covid-19 patients.
Cases of Black Fungus infection are being reported in several parts of the country. States like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Odisha, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have already declared it a ''notifiable'' disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, thereby making it mandatory to report every Mucormycosis case to the state government.
Amid the rising concern of black fungus cases in addition to the COVID pandemic, the rare cases of Mucormycosis of the small intestine have been reported in Delhi''s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
The fungal infection, which is caused by exposure to mucor mould that is commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables, affects the brain, lungs, and sinuses and can be lethal to those suffering from diabetes and having compromised immune systems such as cancer patients or people with HIV/AIDS.
AIIMS Delhi Director Dr Randeep Guleria also pointed out that there has been an increasing trend of rise in fungal infection in the last few weeks being seen among those recovering from COVID-19 with several states reporting an increase in the cases of black fungus.
"The COVID-19 linked infection has claimed more than 7,000 lives in the country," said Dr Guleria.