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Unlicensed, ill-equipped blood banks rampant in Delhi

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 Ambalika Gupta
Shockingly, most of the blood banks in the government sector in Delhi have no procedure for testing the donated blood for HIV and Hepatitis, putting the patients to great risk. Also, the functioning of unlicensed blood banks in Delhi is rampant and has come under the scanner after this fact has been revealed in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

The CAG report for 2016-17 for Delhi has exposed the callous attitude of the Delhi government in this regard. Unlicensed blood banks may well provide unhealthy blood for transfusion which can lead to major health emergencies.  

According to the CAG report, 32 out of 68 blood banks in Delhi were functioning without valid licenses in the year 2016-17. This could be due to faults in the application renewal process.

Shockingly, none of the government blood banks in Delhi undergo NAT screening for detection of infections such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C. The report states that, “None of blood banks under Delhi government and MCD hospitals have NAT screening facility as of March 2017 whereas five out of nine blood banks under government of India and 17 out of 39 private blood banks were using NAT for screening blood.”

The CAG report says that there has also been a failure in updating information pertaining to availability of blood on the National Health Portal, thus depriving those in need of information regarding blood availability.

The CAG has reported inadequacies in the management system of blood banks. There is also a shortage of inspectors in blood banks, according to the report.

The report has pointed out that there has been a decline in blood donation in Delhi over the years. There is a shortage of active blood donors to meet the need of increased blood demand.

Many patients die due to lack of timely infusion of blood. In 2014-17, 66k out 4.47 lakh units of blood collected was discarded due to expiry or lack of infrastructure and yet there is scarcity of blood. The government needs to standardize the system and ensure that blood banks are in compliance with rules and regulations as introduced by National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC), says the report.

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