India: A Double Health Crisis

India: A Double Health Crisis

Al-Ittihad, UAE, June 3

As India battles its second wave of COVID-19 and struggles to cope with its faltering medical infrastructure, another health crisis has begun to unfold in the country. Doctors warn of the emergence of “mucous membrane fungus,” which is also known as “black fungus” – a disease that can be fatal. This fungus is commonly found in the environment, including in soil. A number of coronavirus patients, especially those with weakened immune systems, were found to be affected by black fungus while recovering from COVID-19. In addition to the cases of the coronavirus, which are still very high, an increasing number of cases of black fungus have been identified in India, which puts more burden on the country’s faltering health system. There are reports of thousands of people suffering from black fungus across the country, with more than 10,000 people contracting the rare disease. More than a hundred people have officially died so far due to this new threat. This fungus is found in humid environments and affects the respiratory system. While healthy people are not susceptible, it does affect those who have a weakened immune system, according to the US National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Although it is not contagious, it does attack the sinuses and lungs and can lead to symptoms ranging from facial swelling to fever, skin ulcers and black lesions in the mouth. This rare disease begins as a skin infection in the inner cavity pockets of the face, nose, forehead, cheekbones, and between the eyes and teeth, according to Indian doctors. Then it spreads to the eyes and lungs, and even the brain. When the first wave of the coronavirus reached its climax in September of last year, the number of infections in India reached 97,000 a day. This time around, the number of cases exceeds 400,000 per day, with the number of deaths exceeding 4,000 each day. It is clear that black fungus is a huge problem. While more than 12 Indian states have reported cases of black fungus, the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra are the hardest hit. As India battles this double threat, the message is clear: The country will have to spend more on its health infrastructure. This is also a lesson for all of us around the world: While the COVID-19 pandemic struck all nations, those who emerged out of the pandemic quickest were those with strong health care systems. India, on the other hand, lacks basic oxygen supplies and hospital beds. The COVID-19 and black fungus pandemic have heightened the need to focus on improving medical infrastructure, particularly in the weakest and most vulnerable rural areas of our countries. – Zikru Al-Rahman (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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