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Several illegal blood banks operating around nursing homes, private hospitals in India

Peethambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Due to lack of regular check and proper monitoring, the number of unlicensed blood banks is sprouting up in various parts of the country and most of them are located around the private hospitals and nursing homes, according to an investigation conducted by a retired regulatory officer in Tamil Nadu.

According to the investigation report, the main reason for the increase in the number of illegal blood banks and blood storage centres is on account of ineffective monitoring by the drugs controller general of India (DCGI) and partly by the state regulatory officials. The investigator, who has been strictly regulating blood banks while in service, said a special attention of the DCGI alone could make a change in the present situation. If the distribution of unchecked blood is to be prevented, strict regulatory intervention from the office of DCGI is required..

The investigation shows that, in certain districts in Tamil Nadu, there are no blood banks operating on record but are either managed by private hospitals or clinical laboratories. In such places, illegal banks are working as blood is available to the required patients anytime but no record of such centres in the regulators’ office. According to the report,  in Vellore, Mayiladuthurai, Puthukkottai, Ramanathapuram, Dharmapuri and Kancheepuram, there are no private blood banks, but no scarcity of blood when it is required for a patient in any hospital in these areas.

The blood bank units all over the country started receiving prominence from 1983 with the reporting of AIDS/HIV cases. Till 1980, the blood banks were not given much importance even in government hospitals where only one room was allotted for its operation. After 1983, the situation of the blood banks, both in the government and private hospitals, improved very much. However, the development or modernisation of the units in the private hospitals has not taken place as per the provisions of the drugs act. In 1993, the Supreme Court of India, following a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a social activist, intervened in the matter and directed all the drug controllers to ensure all the blood bank units in the country are licensed with compliance of all relevant rules and regulations. This made the drug officials in all the states to keep an eye on the blood banks and blood storage centres.

The study further says that when the enforcement was strengthened, it was found that the small hospitals and clinics were violating the laws and the blood bank units were running in an unethical way. The ACD solutions for blood collection were also obtained illegally from other states and without proper voucher. Most of such ACD solutions were sold to the patients at higher prices. This was found not only in the private hospitals, but also in the clinical laboratories. The same situation is continuing in all the states in India even today. So this is high time the DCGI office checked all the blood bank units in the country.

In India, the largest number of blood banks are operating in two states namely Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu with total number of  around 400. World Health Organisation is giving utmost importance to blood banks and blood storage centres realizing the importance of blood in life saving procedures.

The investigation report also reported certain cases of HIV infection after patients received blood from private blood banks in Dharmapuri and Madurai. It says that the regulatory authorities should keep close watch on the blood donation camps and the blood collected from these camps needs to  be tested for HIV, VDRL, malaria and haemoglobin.


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