As the third largest country in Asia, India has increased blood supply needs. The country needs about 6 to 7.5 million units of blood a year. In 2007, the officials of World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that there’s 3.6 million voluntary donors in India. The country achieved its highest increase in voluntary donations the next year, which reached 4.6 million.
When the gender distribution statistics was released, it showed only 6% of females give blood while the rest of 94% of donors were males.
Fifty percent of the total donors belong in young adulthood group (18-24 years old). While the age group 25-44 age bracket are responsible for the 29% of donations. The remaining 19% belong in the 45-65 group.
Among the 28 states in India, Tripura has the largest blood supply filling 95.3% of needs.
The 32 districts of Tamil Nadu comes in second with 9% while West Bengal sat on third with 85.1%. Punjab and Maharashtra came on fourth (84.9%) and fifth (84.8%), respectively.
The Law & the Indian Red Cross
The human blood is part of the law. It belongs to the third section B of their Drugs & Cosmetics Act.
In 1967, the Ministry of Health includes a number of requirements for blood operation. It added some of the most important requirements a blood bank should have. These requirements include accommodation, technical staff and upgrade of equipment.
The testing for HIV antibodies was made a mandatory requirement in 1989. It was in this same year when AIDS virus was widespread and the Ministry of Health was left with no better option but to become stricter with the blood testing procedures.
So, because of this alarm, the government published the National Blood Policy in 2002.
Its main objective is to provide a risk-free blood products, to improve R&D (Research & Development) and to stop blood profiteering. Earning money for blood donation was illegal.
The Supreme Court of India also gave directives to the central government that a new comprehensive legislation must be made to improve the blood banking system in the country.
The legislation was made to ensure that the collection, storage, testing and distribution were constantly in its highest quality.
Apart from the government, the Indian Red Cross also played an important role in blood donation industry.
Since the operation began in 1962, it became as the largest voluntary blood bank in the country. The IRC has more than 100 chapters and each must organize a donation camps.
Blood Crisis in India
Even with great efforts, the blood supply is still low. India experiences a shortage of 30-35% annually.
Dr. Geofrey Denis is the regional division head of International Red Cross and he openly admitted that the country needs 7.5 million blood units every year.
Perhaps, one of the main causes of this shortage is the limited number of blood banks in the northeastern states.
The Manipur and Meghalaya have less than ten banks while the territories in the union (Daman, Diu and Lakshadweep) either only have one bank or nothing at all.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the demand for blood in the country could be attained if only 1% of the population is a regular blood donor.
In fact, the organization recorded an increase of one million in unpaid blood donations in 2007 (3.6 million) and in 2008 (4.6 million).
Unsafe blood transfusion also alarms the blood donation industry.
WHO confirmed the spread of HIV and other blood diseases. Around 5 – 10% of these cases are due to unhygienic practices of transfusion such as needle-sharing and reuse of needles.
The situation caused a stir in everybody’s mind and stricter regulation of transfusion services must be implemented as soon as possible.
The three principles of blood safety in India were put into practice:
- Blood transfusion must be obtained through voluntary donors.
- The screening process of all blood products must be thorough to ensure of clean and infection-free blood product.
- Lastly, the usage of blood and other components must only be according to the need.
Voluntary vs. Involuntary Donation
Unpaid blood donation is always encouraged. It’s the only way of helping a lot of people without expecting something in return.
Yet, due to constant shortages in supply – a new program has to be created.
Suresh is the executive committee member of the Federation of Blood Donors Organisation of India (FBDOI) and he recommends the use of credit card system to invite more donors to donate blood.
“We have demanded introduction of the system in the state to collect more blood units from volunteers. Two years ago, the association had sent about 1,000 post cards to chief minister Naveen Patnaik from Berhampur urging him to introduce the system,” he said.
With this type of system in plan, the demand for blood products is yet to be fulfilled. This year, the expected units of blood in collection is 3 lakh, 2.24 of which comes from voluntary donation.
Rules in Blood Donation
There are certain requirements a donor has to have before donating blood. Either the donor chooses to participate in paid or unpaid blood donations, all qualifications below must be met.