With 23 the news of 23 Children with Thalassemia developing HIV after repeated transfusion in Junagadh, Gujarat, safety of transfused blood comes into sharp focus. Pointing of finger in all directions will follow and in the large window, the proponents of NAT testing will scare the public and authorities.
I am not against NAT. There are far more important things to do before talking of NAT.
So what is the solution?
I would recommend two things:
The root cause for such reported and unreported instances is the source of blood. If 2% of our population decided to donate blood twice a year without being called, several thousand lives can be saved. If every media house donates time for such social issues, people can be made aware how they can make a change.
1. I will spend a fraction of money the Government might consider spending on NAT on creating a pool of voluntary blood donors. This needs to be done through committed voluntary organizations like AVBD (West Bengal). It is easy to replicate this successful model, if funds are available to the right people. I for one do not believe the statistics rolled out on voluntary blood donation in this country. This is for another separate post!
2. I will ban testing for infectious diseases by any blood bank collecting less than 300 blood donations in a month. Because of economics of testing by the right technique and kits of right sensitivity, such small blood banks will have to compromise for survival. Hence the need for centralizing the testing for infectious diseases to a larger and quality conscious blood bank within 50 – 100 km radius.
If the combination of these two happen, tested and safe blood from voluntary donors will be available on demand to Indians across the country.