Among the litany of horrors the second wave unleashed earlier this year was the rise in the cases of mucormycosis, commonly known as ‘black fungus’. This rare and deadly disease — which starts with a mere skin infection and then spreads to the bones, muscles and soft tissues — left thousands either dead or gravely disfigured, with countless having to undergo facial surgeries to remove portions of infected eyes, palate, teeth, upper jaw, nose etc. In Maharashtra alone, over 9,000 cases were reported, leading to the deaths of 1,014 people, while overall, India reported 45,432 cases and 4,252 deaths, in the months of April and May.
Today, a team of doctors, who are part of the Association of Otolaryngologists in India (AOI) — a body of 6,500 ENT doctors across the country — is helping recovered patients of mucormycosis get back on their feet by treating their disfigurement almost free of cost. Given that many survivors need facial reconstruction surgeries — which can be only done after six months of recovery — the doctors are doing the needful by providing them interim prosthesis and mitigating their mental agony.