Himachal Pradesh: The gaps in blood banking in Himachal Pradesh are a big irritant for patients in emergency. There are 17 state run blood banks in the state. Except for Indira Gandhi Medical College hospital, Shimla and Dr. Rajendra Prasad Medical College hospital, Tanda, where the facility is 24X7 with staff, other blood banks run on the system of ‘staff on call’ in night hours. While this is because of the unavailability of adequate staff in the blood banks at district or regional level, it brings additional trauma for the patients. The attendants of the patients have to run from pillar to post to look for the technical staff at night, sometimes arrange transport for them, only to find that the blood group required was not available.
The state government had recently launched a portal, which was a step towards inter-linking of blood banks as one could check the availability of blood groups on it. “But the status in this portal is not updated. We cross checked the availability of blood groups mentioned in the portal in reality from the blood banks—it was different. So what is the fun? Who will believe it?”lamented Ajai Srivastava, Chairman of Umang Foundation. He said the blood banks would be inter-linked in real sense if the government has a committed team for it and if there is arrangement for shifting of blood from one bank to another depending on need. “The blood banks in the state are actually functioning in isolation, which adds to mismanagement.”
In a way he is right, because there have been instances of expiry of blood (if it is not used within 35 days) in some blood banks. And in that case the precious blood has to be discarded, which speaks of the ‘mismanagement’ in the blood banking sector in the state. Even otherwise, the posting in the blood banks in the state (barring medical college hospitals) is considered as one of the normal postings, with no concern for the profile of a doctor as per blood banking guidelines. It is largely felt that the general attitude of doctors in the blood banks is not motivating.
And a number of them provide blood to needy persons as a ‘favour’, unless the one in emergency is a VIP or has some VIP connections. In normal course, the ordinary folks are the ones to donate the blood, whether as a replacement donor or in the camps, not the VIPs. But even the donors do not have an assurance that they would get the blood in need, that often demoralizes them. In emergency operations, however, the blood banks do respond quickly to the ordinary patient also on the call of a doctor in the Operation Theatre. The Thalassemic kids too are the sufferers, when they go for blood transfusion to the blood banks every month.
While in IGMC, Shimla, the previous state government had provided one room for Thalassemic kids to relax while waiting for their turn, they are not the privileged ones to get the blood on priority- which they need the most frequently. Often such kids, who are already frail, are seen with their eyes searching for potential donors in the hospital. As if they are more on the mercy of the Blood Bank staff than the donor. There is no help line for them to put forth the demand for blood, if they are unable to find a donor on time. The answer to this, however, is the effective inter-linking of all blood banks with adequate staff to manage the system state wide. The availability (with validity) should be put on the internet. It would not only make the system transparent for patients, but would also help shifting of blood from one bank to another well in time to meet the demand. HIMACHAL diary
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