By B Kishan Singh
Hubballi: Hanumantappa, a-35-year-old farmer from Shirahatti taluk in Gadag district has lost one eye because of the black fungus infection, and he could not speak when Onco Surgeon Jagdish Tubachi visited him for a check-up.
Hanumantappa, the sole breadwinner for his family, severely infected with deadly black fungus while he was getting treatment for Covid-19 infection.
His family spent nearly Rs one lakh at a private hospital in Gadag district for Covid-19 treatment and they shifted him to Hubli Super Specialty Hospital in Hubballi when the doctors treating him for Covid informed the family members that he was infected with black fungus.
Hanumantappa’s relatives tried to admit him to Gadag Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS) but they referred him to Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) in Hubballi citing lack of facility and drugs to treat the rare fungal infection there.
The 35-year-old black fungus-infected patient denied admission in KIMS, citing that they don’t admit patients from other districts as they don’t have enough drugs to treat the patients.
Somehow the attendees able to admit the patient at Hubli Super Speciality hospital, but it was too late for the patient as the infection spread to his eye, on May 25, the doctors performed surgery and removed his right eye to curb the spreading of infection.
The Covid-19 and black fungus infection was a double blow for the Hanumantappa family. His relative told ‘Hubli Express’ that they sold cows, goats to pay for the treatment.
The family members were making every attempt to buy Liposomal Amphotericin B injection which the patient needed most to curb the further spreading of fungal infection. The relatives told that the patient did not receive a single dose of the anti-fungal drug since admission to the hospital because of a shortage of medicine across the nation.
There are 24 patients in the hospital waiting for Liposomal Amphotericin B injection. Doctors at the hospital making an all-out effort to buy the drug but the hospital did not receive a single dose despite the hospital indented the drug on the KPME web portal last Saturday.
Head and Neck Onco Surgeon Jagadish Tubachi told ‘ Hubli Express’ that the patients immediately need the anti-fungal drug. “We are removing the infected tissues and infected parts, but the treatment includes anti-fungal drug as well. Our hands are tied without the drug. If the drug not made available immediately, many patients may die,” he said.
Dr Tubachi told that at least 10 patients have lost their both eyes to the infection and five patients lost one eye. “Many patients’ relatives brought the Amphotericin B from Maharashtra, Gujarat and other parts of the country as the drug was not available in the state.”
“ Relatives of a-49-year old patient from Ballari brought Amphotericin B from Ahemdabad but the patient succumbed to the infection by the time they bring the drug here. They donated the 20 vials of the drug to the patients,” said Dr Tubachi.
BLACK FUNGUS NOT ONLY AFFECTING PHYSICALLY BUT ALSO FINANCIALLY
The line of treatment in Mucormycosis is aggressive and urgent, there should not be a delay in the treatment as soon as it gets detected.
Few who won the battle against Covid-19 spending lakhs of rupees are again infecting with a rare fungal infection, the treatment costs anywhere between Rs 5 lakh to 15 lakh depending upon the severity of the infection and the line of treatment.
Each vial of Amphotericin costs between Rs 4,000 to 8,000 and each patient need at least 68 vials to 120 vials of this drug again based on the severity of the infection.
The diagnostics to detect the fungal infection including MRI/ CT scan, endoscopy, blood investigations drain the pockets of the patients, said one doctor requesting anonymity.
Since the drug is not available and equipment for surgery in the many hospitals are in limited number, many patients visiting hospitals in search of better treatment but in a good multi-speciality hospital the cost of the treatment definitely push a middle-class patient to below the poverty line, said, experts.