A bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and Bhalachandra Debadwar have been hearing a suo motu petition pertaining to COVID-19 crisis in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. In an earlier hearing the bench had taken cognizance of the spurt in mucormycosis cases and the issues related to the disease.
On Monday when the matter was called out, the state prosecutor told the bench that it has been decided to include mucormycosis under the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojna (MJP JAY) scheme that provides free treatment to poor people.
"There would be a capping on the expenses for mucormycosis treatment by private hospitals and they would be instructed not to raise astronomical bills," the prosecutor said while furnishing an eight page chart reflecting the rates for treatment for the 'black fungus'.
The bench was further told that around 130 hospitals have been identified across Maharashtra for treating the disease and that all the medicines for treating it would be made available to the hospitals through civil surgeons of each district.
"The daily use consumption of the required medicines by the hospitals while treating mucormycosis patients will be monitored through the MJPJAY web portal," the prosecutor submitted.
Having perused the papers on record and considering the submissions the bench said that the state has indeed come up with a specific policy for treating mucormycosis patients free of cost.
"Notwithstanding the same, the identified private hospitals would be restrained from raising astronomical bills and the cost of treatment would be monitored by the rates mentioned in the chart," the bench noted.
"We therefore, expect the state government to accord wide publicity to the decision so that the poorest of the poor, the illiterate and semi literate and persons living in remote and tribals areas would become aware of these facilities," the bench ordered.
This, the bench opined, "would prevent unscrupulous elements (hospitals) from fleecing poor and ignorant people by using large bills or affording the treatment on mucormycosis."
"Needless to state the list of hospitals identified for such treatment and through which the medicines would be made available, should also be given wide publicity so that the patients do not land in the wrong hospital for availing the treatment," the bench added.
The bench then enquired about the current availability of the requisite medicines and injections needed to treat mucormycosis, to which the state prosecutor sought time to respond.