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Thalassemia Patients Advocacy Group partner with CII for Safe Blood Campaign, deliberate on ‘Enablers and Barriers to Safe Blood Donation during COVID and Beyond ‘on World’s Blood Donor Day 2021

Copyright: joshyabb / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: joshyabb / 123RF Stock Photo

In a much-needed step amidst the pandemic scenario, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organized a virtual session on, “Enablers and Barriers to Safe Blood Donation- during Covid and Beyond” in partnership with Thalassemia Patients Advocacy Group (TPAG) on the occasion of the World Blood Donor Day . Eminent policy makers, medical professionals and representatives of patient bodies participated in the discussion.

Blood donation is an essential component of health care which saves millions of lives each year. Most developed countries rely on voluntary blood donations to meet their blood supply needs. However, in India voluntary blood donation is still a challenge which is majorly covered by either family or donations. Systems based on replacement donation by the family and friends of patients requiring transfusion are rarely able to meet clinical demands for blood.

While speaking at the CII’s session on the occasion of the World Blood Donor Day 2021, Dr. Hilde De Graeve, Team Leader Health Systems, WHO Country Office for India said, “As per the global data from 180 countries on blood safety published in 2016, 88.2 million units of blood was donated globally of which, 83% was voluntary donation, 16.4% was reported as family or replacement donation and only 0.3% was paid donation. A significant increase of voluntary unpaid donations was reported and that continues to increase till date. Having said that, to combat the problem of blood supply shortages we cannot be focusing only on increasing the numbers of donation, but we  also need to look at strengthening the healthcare system that includes improved blood transfusion services which require policies in place, strategic planning and investments. We need to ensure well equipped laboratories, investment in innovative technology along with well-trained staffs in sufficient numbers. Simultaneously, public campaigns on social media would be key to mobilise the young adults towards blood donation towards ensuring safe blood availability.”

Speaking on government driven initiatives and the impact of the Covid 19 outbreak, Dr. Sunil Gupta, Additional DG Directorate, General Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said “A singular authority to regulate blood transfusion services has been constituted and proposals have been made for standardisation of the screening technologies.” 

Sharing her thoughts on the issue, Anubha Taneja Mukherjee, Member Secretary, TPAG, said, TPAG has helped raise awareness through social media campaigns and organised capacity building programmes for the patients. When it comes to supporting Thalassemia patients, the three most important steps are control, care, and cure. An event such as this will help generate awareness on safe blood donation, a life-saving event for Thalassemia patients who require blood transfusion every 15-20 days. A campaign such as this will help eliminate the myths around voluntary blood-donation. This campaign will also urge the relevant authorities to take necessary steps like implementation of uniform blood screening technologies to ensure availability of safe blood for use wherever and whenever it is needed.”

There is a need to initiate the right dialogue with the involvement of multiple stakeholders to establish a robust policy environment for safe-blood transfusion, prioritising patient’s safety and thereby preventing deaths from transfusion-transmitted infections. All the speakers at the session highlighted the importance of NAT screening along with the need to organise blood donation camps following the social distancing and other norms as there has been a rise in voluntary blood donation that needs to be encouraged and maintained. It would thus be pertinent to organise regular camps while opting for NAT, maintaining the social distancing norms and educate and sensitise people on the importance of safe and voluntary blood donation. 


About TPAG

Recognizing the need and value of advocacy in thalassemia, seven adult thalassemics accomplished in the fields of psychology, law, IT, and education, came together to found Thalassemia Patients Advocacy Group (TPAG) under the aegis of Thalassemics India in 2017. On 16 September 2017, TPAG was formally launched by Mr. Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

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