Plea in SC highlights need for an increase in Blood Banks in India
The Association of Rural Surgeons of India has filed a plea in the Supreme Court highlighting the access of blood transfusions to those lives are at risk in emergency health situations. In its plea, the association has sought directions to strengthen and regulate blood banks and blood storage units across India, especially in the priority districts under Categories A, B and C as identified by the National AIDS Control Programme – III (NACP III) under the National Aids Control Organization (NACO).
The plea also seeks directions from the Centre for setting up Blood banks in all District Hospitals in compliance with National Blood Policy and the NBTC Guidelines, 2007. These banks, the association says, must be fully fed through non- remunerative blood donation with monthly calendar with effective propagation of Blood Donation Camps.
Orders and directions must be issued for setting up Regional Blood Banks in all Divisional Headquarters of the State, mostly Government Medical Colleges. This will ensure direct and regular supply of blood to district hospital blood banks and Blood Storage Units. There must be a rapid upscaling of BSUs in FRUs and other CHCs with BSUs being fed from their ‘mother’ Blood Banks – without need for replacement.
Unbanked Directed Blood Transfusion (UBDT) that is well regulated must be legalised. Presently this is the only feasible and safe option. UDBT will help meet demands for blood in rural areas since achieving targets to expand the network of blood banks to improve access to safe blood across the country may take many years.
The association also seeks the establishment of a separate monitoring body for all purposes relating to blood and blood transfusion services under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. The revision and rationalisation of the NBTC Guidelines must be done in consultation with the Petitioners.
In the petition, which was filed on October 19, the association submits that health care in our society is deeply unequal. Geography, economic status and dubious public institutions dictate one’s ability to access quality health care and achieve good health. Moreover, availability, cost, quality and safety of health services raise difficult technical and ethical questions which have yet to be adequately resolved.
State of blood banks in the country
Blood Transfusion Services (BTS) in India are highly decentralized and lack many vital resources needed to make them effective including adequate manpower, infrastructure and financial support. However, fragmented management is the core issue issue plaguing blood banking systems. Standards of care and supplies of blood vary from state to state, city to city and centre to centre. Despite the existence of government health infrastructure, many large hospitals (such as district hospitals) and nursing homes in rural areas lack their own blood banks. This has led to the proliferation of stand-alone private blood banks out of which many are not registered.
Advocate Sneha Mukherjee is representing the petitioners in this matter.
You can read the complete petition here.
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