Small blood banks to be closed

NEW DELHI: Small blood banks, collecting less than 1,000 units of blood annually from voluntary donors, will soon be shut down. They will instead function as mere blood storage units, which will be supplied with whole blood and blood components like plasma and platelets by highly sophisticated “mother banks”, coming up in each of the four zones.

Each storage unit will then supply blood to hospitals and localities around it to ensure that even the country’s most backward areas don’t face shortage of the life-saving components.National Aids Control Organisations (NACO) estimates that over 15% of the 2,433 government and charitable blood banks will be converted.

From Times of India.

The decision was finalized after the health ministry’s Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) gave the go-ahead for NACO’s proposal for setting up four state-of-the-art blood separation centres last month.

These four “mother banks”, which will be on par with the world’s best banks in France and Germany, will come up in the four metros. Each bank, which will deploy nucleic acid testing technique that reduces the risk of transfusing blood infected by HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C by 34% to 92%, will collect one lakh units of blood per year and separate them into components. The safe blood will then be supplied to the storage centres.

Health minister A Ramadoss says the move to convert poor performing blood banks into storage units will not only save manpower and money, but also ensure high quality of blood transfusion services.

Dr Debashish Gupta, NACO’s national programme officer for blood safety, told TOI : “We will soon approach the Union Cabinet for final approval to set up the four metro blood banks. We plan to start constructing them within a year. These centres will provide blood and its components to its respective regions.”

According to Ramadoss, the use of blood components is alarmingly low in India. He says that while in India, the ratio of use of blood components to whole blood is 15:85, globally it is 90:10. He also said that good laboratory practices and quality assessment measures are questionable in most blood banks at present.

“At present, 80% of blood collected is given as whole blood. However, the use of whole blood as a routine should be avoided. Use of blood components will benefit more people and maximize use of a blood unit. The four centres will have a research wing to study blood components. They will also train doctors and technicians in blood transfusion courses to ensure the country has a lot more trained manpower,” Ramadoss said.

According to Gupta, the one lakh units collected in each centre will be divided into four lakh units of various components like plasma, platelet and factors 8 and 9.

“Presently, we are assessing the performance of our blood banks to know which ones need to be converted into blood storage units. Once decided, two doctors and three technicians will be posted there to ensure smooth supply of blood to local requirements,” Gupta said.

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