New Delhi: A majority of government-run blood banks in India are neither inspected regularly nor do they comply with the best healthcare standards, a preliminary assessment by the ministry of health and family welfare has shown.

The preliminary baseline assessment report 2016 covered blood banks supported by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), which functions under the health ministry. NACO and the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) are responsible for the functioning of blood transfusion services and blood safety at the national level.

NACO supports 1,126 of the 2,760 blood banks in the country.

“There are gaps in blood transfusion services, (in) ensuring access to quality blood and blood products to all those who are in need, that need to be addressed at the district, state and regional level through an evidence-based approach," the assessment report said.

The report said inspection and licensing of blood banks was lax.

According to the report, only around 55% of blood banks had a valid and current licence.

A majority of the facilities (67.7%) reported that they had “deemed renewal," meaning that they had applied for renewal, which was still pending.

The report found the number of blood banks in terms of the population of the states to be skewed.

“Considering the number of NACO-supported blood banks in terms of population size, states such as Bihar (0.4 blood bank), UP (0.4), Chhattisgarh (0.6), West Bengal (0.7), Jharkhand (0.7), Rajasthan (0.7), Assam (0.8) and Madhya Pradesh (0.9) recorded fewer blood banks per 1 million population whereas the national average was 0.9 blood bank per 1 million population," the report said.

Maharashtra (120) had the highest number of NACO-supported blood banks followed by Tamil Nadu (95), Uttar Pradesh (89), Gujarat (77) and Karnataka (66).

In blood banks, whole blood units are often separated into components for transfusion. Blood is usually separated into plasma, red cells and platelets by modern component separation methods. Many government blood banks aren’t equipped to do this.

“About 39% of blood banks had component separation facility and the remaining 61% blood banks did not...At the state level, Delhi state had the highest percentage of blood component separation units (95%) out of the total available blood banks in the state, followed by Chandigarh (75%), Maharashtra (71.6%), Karnataka (61.5%), Gujarat (58.7%), and Kerala (57.8%)," the report said.

“States like Odisha (9.6%), Madhya Pradesh (16.1%), Assam (19.2%), Bihar (17.9%), Tamil Nadu (23.2%), West Bengal (23.8%), Rajasthan (25.5%), Chhattisgarh (25%), and Uttarakhand (27.8%) had a low proportion of blood component separation facility. Andaman & Nicobar and Dadra Nagar Haveli had one blood banks each that had component separation facility," it stated.

Private-sector blood banks had a higher proportion (62.8%) of component separation facilities compared to the public sector (32.3%).

The report said only 25 blood banks among 1,101 had been accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH). Among all states, Maharashtra (9) and Gujarat (9) had the highest number of accredited blood banks.

The government is trying to improve the situation. “Blood banks are very important for us. We are taking care of blood banks in our proposed patient safety framework," said Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services.

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