Thalassemia Patients Advocacy Group (TPAG) today stressed on the importance of blood as a life-saving healthcare resource. The Group have also been stressing Voluntary Blood Donation as one of the key means to ensure access to safe blood.
Taking their ongoing safe blood campaign ahead in 2021, TPAG aims to sensitize the masses on the role that they can play in saving lives through voluntary blood donation. Furthermore, TPAG aims to spread awareness and education about Thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder in which patients are required to go for regular blood transfusion and urge the relevant authorities to take necessary steps to ensure availability of safe blood by encouraging Voluntary Blood Donation and implementing uniform blood screening technologies for prevention of transfusion transmitted infections like HIV, HCV, etc.
Sharing her thoughts on the issue, Anubha Taneja Mukherjee, Member Secretary, Thalassemia Patients Advocacy Group, said, “TPAG has always helped raise awareness through social media campaigns and organised capacity building programmes for the patients. we would like to appeal to every healthy adult to contribute towards saving lives of others by donating lifeblood.”
“Interestingly, as per the World Health Organisations (WHO), regular blood donations by only 1% of the healthy population is enough to ensure safe blood availability as these people are considered the safest group of donors given the lowest prevalence blood borne diseases among them. Therefore, we would urge people to come forward and become lifesavers by volunteering to donate blood regularly”, added Mukherjee.
Last month, the Union Health Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan had inaugurated a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAT) lab at the national headquarters of Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) in Delhi. The lab has been set up by the Thalassemia Patients Advocacy Group (TPAG), the patient wing of Thalassemics India as part of their Safe Blood Campaign to prevent transmission of infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, C or HIV through blood transfusions.
Dr RN Makroo, President, Indian Society of Transfusion Medicine shared, “Covid 19 pandemic has affected millions of people around the world. It created a huge impact on the availability of safe blood for transfusion patients because blood donors are scared to step out and donate blood because of the coronavirus. Presently, the voluntary blood donation camps are not being organised by the institution, colleges and societies. Association bodies and patient groups should develop a new strategy with the help of the government in collecting blood from the donors amid pandemic. It would also be imperative to adopt advanced blood screening technologies available today such as Nucleic acid testing (NAT) across the country to ensure blood safety and safe blood transfusion for everyone across the country without any disparity making this a healthier and fairer country.”
The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), in an RTI, shared that around 1,342 people across India have contracted the HIV infection due to blood transfusion in 2018-19, giving rise to serious safety and quality concerns. There is a need to collaborate with multiple stakeholders to establish a robust policy environment for safe-blood transfusion, prioritising patient’s safety and thereby preventing deaths from transfusion-transmitted infections.
Simultaneously, it would be important to organise regular blood donation camps while opting for NAT, maintaining the social distancing norms and educate and sensitise people on the importance of blood donation.