The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blood policy push on AIDS Day

New Delhi, Nov. 30: Coinciding with World AIDS Day tomorrow, the Centre is going to announce an action plan for implementing the national blood policy announced in April this year.

The policy was put in place to ensure safe blood transfusion, especially in the light of the HIV/AIDS scare. Apart from sexual intercourse and drug abuse, blood transfusion is one of the channels by which the infection spreads.

A cornerstone of the action plan will be to ensure compulsory accreditation of all blood banks by the government. It will also have a provision for counselling donors found infected with HIV/AIDS. At present, after donating blood many donors do not want to know the status of their blood sample — whether it is infected or not. “This provision will be for those who want to know,” an official said.

The action plan envisages close co-ordination between the government blood banks and the Indian Red Cross. Its main aim, as already outlined in the national blood policy, is to have as high a turnout of voluntary donors as possible. The plan recommends instituting awards for voluntary donors to give them a boost. It suggests a system of internal auditing within the blood banks to maintain the quality of storage and processing of blood.

There is, however, scepticism over whether the accreditation policy will work. Earlier, the department of science and technology had recommended accreditation for diagnostic centres — all pathological laboratories. Inspectors were to go and certify the quality and procedures of tests. But few pathological laboratories were willing to undergo these tests.

Former Union health minister C.P. Thakur had initiated the national blood policy. Tomorrow’s action plan will be unveiled by his successor, Shatrughan Sinha, in what could be his first major policy announcement.

The national blood policy had outlined the best possible situation for blood transfusion centres that are both donors and receivers of blood. But much of this seems to have remained on paper. In fact, the action plan, barring a couple of initiatives, seems to be a rehash of the national policy, which stated that its primary objective was to “reiterate firmly the government’s commitment to provide safe and adequate quantity of blood, blood components and blood products”.

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