Health workers hail 'price tag' on blood pouches

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Old 27-Sep-2011
Health workers hail 'price tag' on blood pouches

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government's recent move to affix a maximum retail price-like tag on pouches of blood sold by private and public blood banks is a welcome step to check rampant overcharging, say health workers.

What is more important is that relatives should not be forced to replace the blood used for a patient in a hospital, they say. Dr I.S. Gilada of the People's Health Organisation, which focuses on the prevention and control of HIV/Aids, said: "Most of the blood banks in hospitals, despite collecting their blood supply from voluntary donors and through major blood donation drives, charge a deposit ranging from Rs750 [Dh55] to Rs2,500 [Dh185] per unit of blood expecting the patient or relatives to replace the blood."

Commercial donors

When relatives fail to replenish the blood within a stipulated time, they often get hold of commercial blood donors or sellers, who charge between Rs200 (Dh14) and Rs500 (Dh37), to replace the blood to avoid forfeiting the deposit. Again, hospitals or nursing homes also charge blood transfusion charges from Rs150 (Dh11) to Rs500 per unit to the patient's bill.

"Not only are patients harassed and get commercially exploited but, more importantly, the patients runs the risk of several transfusion-transmitted infections."

Vinay Shetty, vice-president of the Think Foundation, an NGO coordinating the collection of almost 20 per cent of the requirement of blood units in Mumbai, says there is a dire need for the implementation of the national blood policy in the country. There are more than 300 blood banks in the state, including 60 in Mumbai, with no guidelines for any of these banks.

Blood donated voluntarily has a high safety mark compared with blood given by high-risk donors. It is important that hospitals do not compel patients to bring donors to replace the blood, he says.

Gilada added voluntary blood donation should be encouraged.

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