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BloodIndian blood banks industry needs efficiency in manpower, adequate infrastructure and financial base needs to be addressed says Dr Reena Bansal, HOD, Blood & Transfusion Medicine, Saroj Super Specialty Hospital, Delhi while in conversation with Prathiba Raju, Elets News Network (ENN)

How much of blood shortage does India faces annually, what are the causative factors?

India has a population of 1.28 billion and has a huge burden of patient popu- lation requiring multiple blood transfu- sions. As per the recent data released by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), there is a requirement of 12 million units of blood annually in India. However, it is able to collect only nine million units per year with around 25 per cent shortfall.

Blood and blood components are widely used in treating patients with deficiencies related to blood and are used in deriving numerous bio- pharmaceuticals (antibodies, blood factors, and others). Especially with season of dengue we see sharp rise in the demand of blood. However, certain infections like HIV and AIDS continue to take a toll on the population across the world, fuelling the demand for blood products.

We can undermine various causa- tive factors responsible for shortage of blood in India like lack of aware- ness among masses, ageing popula- tion, changes in the incidence of dis- eases and surgical procedures.

Can you give an overview of the current status of the blood banks industry in India?

The blood supply depends on three types of donation – voluntary, replace- ment for used blood and professional donors. In India professional blood for money was banned by Supreme Court in 1999. So, almost 60 per cent of the total blood collected in the country is through voluntary blood donation.

There is no alternative product that can replace human blood, and the sup- ply depends entirely on voluntary do- nations, which never fully meet the de- mand. Fuelled by a greater awareness and acceptance of blood transfusion as a safe option, increasing efforts to make quality blood available, stringent regulatory and healthcare policies adopted across the world, the global market for blood banking and blood products is expected to touch US$ 36 billion in current year and US$ 43 bil- lion by 2018.

What are some of the major challenges that the blood banks industry is currently facing in India?

The blood banks industry in India is highly decentralised and lacks many vital resources like manpower, ad- equate infrastructure and financial base. The major issue, which plagues blood banking system in the coun- try, is fragmented management. The standards of services and quality vary from in each state and city. Despite we follow hospital based system, many large hospitals and nursing homes do not have their own blood banks and this has led to proliferation of stand- alone private blood banks.

For safe and quality blood and blood products, well-equipped blood centres with adequate infrastructure and trained manpower is essential

Dr Reena Bansal, HOD, Blood & Transfusion Medicine, Saroj Super Specialty Hospital, Delhi

Dr Reena Bansal, HOD, Blood & Transfusion Medicine, Saroj Super Specialty Hospital, Delhi

The blood component availability and utilisation is extremely limited. There is a great demand of trained healthcare professionals in the field of transfusion medicine. For qual- ity, safety and efficacy of blood and blood products, well-equipped blood centres with adequate infrastructure and trained manpower is essential. Upgrading them as part of modern- isation is bound them to raise costs, making them economically unviable. The control on pricing deters the industry from implementing latest technologies as the cost implications would be high is a major challenge.

Which states lacks and excels in voluntary blood donation and why?

States like Maharashtra, West Bengal witness high rate of voluntary blood donation whereas states like Bihar, Meghalaya, Assam has lower rate of voluntary blood donation due to lack of interest and awareness and fewer number of female blood donors.

What should the central and state government do to regulate the unlicensed blood donation?

Every blood banks needs to be li- censed before starting its operations, therefore, strong regulatory regime i.e. licensing is important to ensure compliance to minimum require- ments in terms of structures and some processes. Guidelines for ob- taining the basic licensing for blood banks needs to be reviewed in every two years. The Central Drug Stand- ard Control Organisation, the regu- latory body which is responsible for licensing and monitoring blood banks in the country should regulate a mechanism to keep a check on small- scale blood banks that do not adhere these guidelines.

How IT could help?

Blood transfusion is more prone to er- ror by virtue of the process involving a chain of events done at different lo- cations, by different personnel, hap- pening simultaneously or in series. Some errors can be life threatening. Proper use of IT technologies like bar coding, online storage of donors data, web based blood banks information management systems can play a cru- cial role in reducing any chances of human error and efficient utilisation of blood products and lesser chances of wastage. With the help of coding and scanning technology the chances of miss-reporting can be reduced to a great extend.

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