MUMBAI: A recent amendment to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1945, will now allow private blood banks to conduct donation camps. So far, only licensed banks run by registered charitable organizations, government or the Indian Red Cross Societywere allowed to hold camps.
The amendment was mainly brought in to put an end to the practice of banks insisting on replacement donors even as the country’s national blood policy mandates voluntary donation.
While the new rule may not affect the scheme of things in the city so much, it could bring about huge relief to other parts of the country where people had to rely on government blood banks.
In Mumbai, almost all major private hospitals come under charitable institutions and therefore their blood banks could anyway hold donations camps. However, a couple of standalone private banks and hospitals stand to gain from the amendment.
Besides this, another crucial amendment to the Act has been to allow the sharing of blood units between registered banks. “This step was specifically taken to prevent wastage of blood,” said a senior state official. The recipient blood bank however cannot further transfer units obtained from another blood bank except to another blood storage centre.
A recent reply to an RTI query had revealed that in the last five years, over 2.8 million units of blood and its components were discarded by blood banks across the country as they could not be used within their shelf life. The cumulative wastage of around 6%, if calculated in litres, was more than 6 lakh litres. It emerged that 50% of the wasted units was plasma that has a longer shelf life of one year as compared to whole blood and red blood cells that have to be used within 35 days.
Vinay Shetty of NGO Think Foundation said that the decisions are well-intentioned, but need to be implemented under strict supervision. “The good thing is private banks can no longer hide behind the law and say they can’t hold camps. However, the downside of the law could be that blood banks can indulge in profiteering which is why there should be strict supervision, he said.