The government will set up state of the art blood banks in 600 districts across India and a model blood bank in all the states within next two to three years, said Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss at the National Conference on "How Accessible and Safe is 'Safe' Blood?".
Speaking ahead of World AIDS Day, which falls on December 1, Centers of Excellence will be set up at all the four metros at a cost of Rs.25 crores each to support the regional requirements of testing and storage of blood, said Ramadoss.
Dr. Ramadoss announced that government will establish a plasma fractioning unit with a capacity of 15,00,00 litres of blood every year. National Blood Authority will be set up by the government to promote and regulate the process of donations, transfusions and policies regarding blood. India has reduced HIV/AIDS as a cause of blood transfusion to two percent and government has set a target of 0.5 percent, said Ramadoss.
On the role of government, Dr. Ramadoss said that 'National Rural Health Mission' with a budget of Rs.15,800 crore is the largest initiative by the government of India on health sector but the government needs the support of private companies to implement the mission. National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) is supporting the public blood banks and has commenced a nationwide movement to promote donation of 'safe' blood, he said.
Deepender Hooda, Member of Parliament, said that the challenges to access of safe blood are; commitment; will of the donors; and, availability of infrastructure. Along with infrastructure, Hooda said that government should ensure donor specific policies and motivate people to come forward for multiple blood donation.
He cited the example of club 25 Model in Zimbabwe where a new pool of low risk donors was created and the students, in the age group of 16 - 19, became so motivated that they created the Pledge 25 Club, committing to make at least 25 blood donations before the age of 25.
In a panel session on 'National Blood Policy: Gaps and Challenges', Dr. Debashish Gupta, National Programme Officer - Blood Safety, NACO suggested the development of a corpus fund for the adoption of technology of blood processing. There is a challenge to implement National Blood Policy - 2002, in every state of India, said Dr. Gupta. Schemes for modernisation of blood bank, training of manpower, procurement of testing and lab kits and fund to run blood banks are the key concerns of NACO, Dr. Gupta informed.
Dr. R N Makroo, Director, Department of Transfusion Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, said that government has framed policies but there is a need to implement them effectively. He said that most of India's 50% voluntary donors are one-time donors only and multiple donations have to be encouraged. There is a disease burden on India and infections through transfusion are higher than the global standards, informed Mr. Makroo. Implementation of policies and availability of resources can bring down the risk factor of blood safety to nearly 0 percent, he added.
Dr. Veena Doda, Head, Blood Bank, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital stressed on adequate budget management and training of manpower. She mentioned that the magnitude of blood donation risk is continuously decreasing with different processes and improvement in screening of blood donors.
Prasad Apsangikar, Head - Medical Services, Reliance Services stated that companies should do research on indigenous production of blood components which can be judiciously used by the health sector.
Manmohan Lal Sarin, Senior Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court, presented the case study of Chandigarh as a success story for blood donation efforts at the panel discussion.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Harpal Singh, Chairman, CII National Committee on Public Health and Chairman (non - executive) Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. said that fast globalisation and integration with the world are posing new challenges to 'safe' blood. He said that safe blood is a substantive area of concern and CII has set up 'National Committee on Public Health', where this issue will also be taken up. He emphasised on adopting a national programme on safe blood as per World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
Lt. Gen. S S Mehta, Director General, CII announced that CII will look at the Chandigarh model and also convene a conference there. CII is committed to work in the area of Business leadership in HIV/AIDS as a part of corporate social responsibility through its members. India has the demographic advantage of being the youngest country and should be known as a benchmark for 'safe blood', said Lt. Gen. Mehta. He urged the young Indians to donate blood with a slogan " Donate fivetimes in your lifetime".