May 28, 2021 12:13:45 am
The Gujarat High Court in an order dated May 26 in a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) pertaining to Covid-19 management, made public on Thursday, suggested the state to form a specific, effective and transparent policy for distribution of antifungal drug Liposomal Amphotericin- B used to treat mucormycosis.
It also suggested that an expert panel be formed in each district to systemise its distribution. A separate PIL on mucormycosis management has also been filed before the high court.
The order states that the “court is of the opinion that in order to systematise the distribution… of Liposomal Amphotericin B injections…, the policy must notify the authority/expert body constituted in each district, as also the procedure to be followed by the hospitals i.e. Government/ Corporation/ Private hospitals for the procurement of the injections. The allocation made to the hospitals and the usage by the hospitals also should be displayed on the website of the health department…”
The court order adds that “it is expected that the state government shall take all necessary actions to improve the health infrastructure in the rural areas, create awareness amongst public about mucormycosis and make the policy of distribution of Liposomal Amphotericin B injections more transparent, specific and effective.”
At present the drug distribution policy in the state involves eight nodal government hospitals in seven districts, which is supposed to cater to the demand of the remaining hospitals – government and private – to all districts, subject to submission of patient details and upon completion of payment. Given the drug shortage, allocation is made on the basis of patient criticality and severity of condition.
As of May 26, over 3,700 mucormycosis patients have been reported in the state.
A PIL was moved by two Ahmedabad residents on Wednesday on the recent surge in mucormycosis cases in the state, seeking that the court immediately call for a compliance or status report with regard to cases and issue directions with a view to effectively control and deal with mucormycosis in the state.
The petition filed by Maitree Mazumdar and Kush Vachhrajani, represented by advocate Amit Panchal, sought that the matter of mucormycosis be dealt with separately from the ongoing Covid-19 PIL owing to high fatality and rapid deterioration in patient condition in mucormycosis patients.
The petitioners in their plea have also listed out suggestions for the state government and health authorities such as including treatment cost under the ambit of Ayushman Bharat as well as capping prices of not only the antifungal drug but diagnostic procedures.
The petitioners have also suggested that a nodal hospital for mucormycosis treatment should be designated in every district while also clearly defining the role of nodal officers in charge of distribution and supply of the antifungal drug to other hospitals. The petitioners have also suggested transparency in case numbers and deaths due to mucormycosis, by putting such information in the public domain with a real-time dashboard to update on the availability of antifungal drugs and beds for mucormycosis patients.
To this effect, the petitioners have highlighted that “media reports and live experiences by patients’ families and volunteers confirm that just like Covid-19, Gujarat government has miscalculated and underreported the statistics about mucormycosis patients”.
The petitioners have further stressed that “the opacity around the management of mucormycosis epidemic has led to acute shortage of Amphotericin B, an injection used to treat the same” and that “procedural lapses in policies surrounding mucormycosis” has led to loss of lives.
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