Inaugurating the Indian Red Cross Society - State Secretaries Meeting on "Promotion of Voluntary Blood Donation through Indian Red Cross" today, the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss said that voluntary non-remunerated blood donors who give blood regularly are the lowest risk donors because they are motivated solely by altruism and have no reason to conceal any information about their state of health and life style that may make them unsuitable as blood donors. Representatives of State Red Cross Societies, NACO, WHO and International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) were present at the function.
The following is the summary of the Health Minister's speech:
I am happy that Indian Red Cross has taken the initiative of Promotion of Voluntary Blood Donation movement. Transfusion of blood is an essential part of modern health care and the services provides a safe blood, blood transfusion service to all needy patients. A serious commitment is required for an effective blood transfusion programme in terms of financial and human resources. Indian Red Cross is one of the largest and oldest indigenous humanitarian organizations, engaged in blood bank service and health sector disaster management since 1962 and the only organization that is sensitive to the needs of the common people can endeavour to take such a stride.
Blood transfusion is a unique technology. Its collection, processing and use are scientifically based, but its availability depends on the extraordinary generosity of people who donate blood regularly as the most precious of gifts - the gift of life. Therein lays the fundamental challenge: safe transfusion requires not only the application of science and technology to blood processing and testing, it also requires social mobilization to promote voluntary blood donation by sufficient numbers of people who have no infectious diseases that can be transmitted to the recipients of their blood.
Family or Replacement who give blood only when blood is required by a member of their own family or extended family have proven to be less safe than voluntary donors. This is because they may be under pressure to donate blood when they are actually unsuitable because of the risk of transmitting infections to the patient. Replacements have a higher incidence and prevalence of Transfusion Transmitted Infections than voluntary donors. The infectious diseases include HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis and malaria. Replacement donors still provide more than 45% of the blood collected in India.
While blood transfusion can be life saving, many transfusions are given unnecessarily when the availability is scare and use of simpler, less expensive treatments would provide equal or greater benefit. Not only does this expose patients needlessly to the risk of transfusion-transmitted diseases, it also widens the gap between supply and demand and contributes to shortages of blood and blood products for patients who really need them.
To reduce the gap between demand and availability of Safe Blood there should be a planned programme to create awareness amongst the general public so as to ensure a regular supply of good quality blood without having to experience seasonal shortages. The educational programme, therefore, should be so designed that the community understands the advantage of regular blood donation. The groups targeted for motivation would be educational Institutions, Industrial Houses, socio-cultural organizations, religious groups, political organizations, uniformed services, medical institutions, women's organizations and government organizations. Mass media should be engaged for raising the awareness among people and sensitizing them towards their participation in the most effective way to mobilize voluntary blood donation.
I am associated with the IRCS as its Chairman for the last few years. In this period I have seen the missionary zeal with which it has worked and grown all over the country. The IRCS has 35 State/Union Territories branches with more than 700 districts/sub district branches & is running 108 blood banks across 14 states and contribute 10% of total collection of Blood in India.
The main objective of all blood banks in the country is to achieve 100% voluntary non-remunerated blood donation. Traditional beliefs myths and taboos are the obstacles in the promotion of voluntary blood donation movement. IRCS regularly holds motivational campaigns to counter this. Today all of us are living a fast paced life. There is no time for others and we have become self-centered. In such times organizations such as Red Cross have to play a bigger role. It is an organization that thinks about those who are suffering, whether disaster victims, disabled, aged or those in need of medical care.
WHO advocates and recommends to its Member States to develop national blood transfusion services based on voluntary non-remunerated regular blood donation in accordance with World Health Assembly resolution 28.72, which was adopted in 1975. With its enormous population, the demand for blood in India is naturally very high. The country is deficient of 50% of blood as per the WHO norms. Voluntary contribution is nearly 55%.
The Challenge in our Country is that the infrastructure of blood banking services are highly decentralized and does not have adequate trained people, equipment/ supplies and financial resources to provide the quality of services required from a blood bank.
Management of Blood Transfusion services is a key component of hospital disaster planning. The organization of blood transfusion services should be an integral part of any national health policy. There be emphasis on providing blood/blood components to the needy patients admitted in Govt and private hospitals. Such care requires committed volunteers, doctor's, paramedical & nurses. This requires recurrent inflow of funds so that the Society can have enough funds for running its blood transfusion service effectively.
A set of simple guidelines designed to assist those responsible for blood donor recruitment and implement programme to improve communication with blood donors has been developed by NACO. These guidelines provide approaches for organizing, collecting information and developing plans; as well as providing ideas that individual centres might consider for recruiting, educating and retaining safe donors. I am sure that these guidelines will help people to become more skillful in executing their responsibilities in times of needs.