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SC Issues Notices On A Plea To Regulate Blood Banks & Revise NBTC Guidelines [Read Order]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
3 Feb 2020 2:03 PM GMT
SC Issues Notices On A  Plea To Regulate Blood Banks & Revise NBTC Guidelines [Read Order]
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A division bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice RF Nariman and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat has issued notices on a PIL seeking to strengthen and regulate blood banks and blood storage units in the country. The plea has been filed by the Association of Rural Surgeons of India, Jan Swasthya Sahayog, Shaheed Hospital seeking to regulate blood banks in the priority districts...

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A division bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice RF Nariman and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat has issued notices on a PIL seeking to strengthen and regulate blood banks and blood storage units in the country.

The plea has been filed by the Association of Rural Surgeons of India, Jan Swasthya Sahayog, Shaheed Hospital seeking to regulate blood banks in the priority districts under Categories A, B and C, as identified by the National AIDS Control Programme- III, under the National Aids Control Organization.

The plea also states that the prices of blood processing equipment in India are unregulated and need to be regulated through the drug price control order.

As per the Petitioner, the govt. has failed to provide ready access to 'blood transfusion services' in rural areas despite existence of government health infrastructure. It was pointed out that many large hospitals and nursing homes in rural areas lack their own blood banks, leading to "proliferation of stand-alone private blood banks out of which many are not registered".

The number of registered and licensed blood banks in India is extremely low, viz. less than 3 blood banks per 10 lakh population, the plea disclosed.

It was submitted that the guidelines issues by the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) in 2007 require 'Blood Storage Units' (BSU) to be established in all 'First Referral Units' (FRU), in order to boost availability. However, "only a fraction of FRUs have the infrastructure for BSUs and only a miniscule percentage actually function to any significant extent, approximately transacting and using less than 100 units of blood per yr."

Therefore, the Petitioner has sought directions for setting up of Blood banks in all District Hospitals in compliance with National Blood Policy and the NBTC Guidelines. It has also sought setting up of Regional Blood Banks in all Divisional Headquarters of the State, mostly Government Medical Colleges, to act as a hub to direct and regular supply of blood to district hospital blood banks and BSUs.

Apart from BSUs, the Petitioner submitted, there is a shortage of around 80-85% trained health professionals in the field of transfusion medicine. Thus, there is a calling need for the government to map these inadequacies and make Blood Banks functional.

The Petitioner pointed out that in India, the rate of maternal mortality was very high due to inaccessibility of blood. "Around the world, over 5 lakh women die annually during childbirth. One-third of these deaths happen in India… Nearly 50,000 deaths could have been averted had there been a well-resourced and functioning facility within 50 kms of the health facilities in both public and non-governmental sectors," it was submitted.

"At least 81 districts across India lack a single functioning blood bank or BSU… This blood shortage however often results in needless referrals and more complications including the needless deaths of these young women," the plea read.

The plea further discloses that even as the NBTC has called for completely phasing out 'replacement donations' by 2020, most blood banks continue to rely heavily on replacement donations, even in emergency situations where no replacement donor is available.

It has therefore prayed for directions both to the Centre and all the State Governments, to upscale the BSUs in FRUs, with BSUs being through non- remunerative blood donation, with effective propagation of Blood Donation Camps in compliance with NBTC Guidelines, 2007.

The Petitioner lastly asserted that expanding the network of blood banks to improve access to safe blood across the country may take many years. Thus he sought directions legalizing 'Unbanked Directed Blood Transfusion', to meet the instant blood demands in rural areas.

The plea further seeks:

  1. directions to the Centre for establishing a separate monitoring body for all purposes relating to blood and blood transfusion services under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India;
  2. directions to the Centre for revising and rationalizing the NBTC Guidelines in consultation with the Petitioners.

The Petitioner was represented by Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, AoR Satya Mitra and Advocate Sneha Mukherjee.

Click Here To Download Petition Summary

Click Here To Download Order

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