West Bengal Blood Banks Facing Severe Shortage
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3 November 2008
By Soudhriti Bhabani
Most of the blood banks have failed to meet the average requirement, particularly causing problems for thalassemia and blood cancer patients
Over 100 blood banks in West Bengal are facing an acute supply shortage as social organisations and clubs were too busy with Durga Puja to organise their regular blood donation camps.
Most of the blood banks, 58 of which are state–run and the rest are private, have failed to meet the average requirement of blood units, particularly causing problems for thalassemia and blood cancer patients.
“All the major festivals, including the mega event of Durga Puja, were celebrated in October. Naturally, the social organisations and clubs were busy making arrangements for the puja. Very few blood donation camps were organised during festival time in the state this year,” West Bengal Voluntary Blood Donors' Forum General Secretary Apurva Ghosh said.
Ghosh said, “West Bengal has a requirement of 7.5 lakh units of blood per annum, of which 6.2 lakh units have been achieved so far.”
The average requirement of blood units in the state varied from 50,000 to 60,000 per month.
This shortfall has caused problems for thalassemia patients and those who are suffering from blood cancer and are in need of regular blood transfusion, he said.
According to a source at the SSKM Hospital, a state-run premier healthcare unit in Kolkata, blood banks are finding it hard to meet the demand.
“The demand was much higher than the normal figure in October and there aren’t sufficient stocks preserved with the blood banks,” the source said.
Some are even rationing the supply.
SK Sen Barat, who works with a city-based private blood bank, said, “Almost every month we give about 500 units, but so far we have given 350.”
Ghosh said that various political parties in the state play a very important role in blood donation activities round the year.
“But this time they were also busy with burning issues like the Singur land acquisition and the (coming) Lok Sabha poll. So they took no initiative to arrange blood donation programmes,” the General Secretary said.
“We’ve given several proposals to the state government to make adequate arrangements for the festive season, as we all are aware of the crisis here. There should be proper planning on the part of the government and voluntary organisations in tackling such a critical challenge,” Ghosh said.
State Director for Health Services Sanchita Bakshi admitted, “It’s true that there was a serious crisis, but gradually we’re trying to get over that since the festive occasions are now over. We’ve decided to hold at least 14 blood donation camps in November all over the state.”
West Bengal apparently tops the league of blood donation camps, with Maharastra and Tripura coming second and third, respectively.