Delhi govt mulls new test for safe blood transfusion

NAT to detect infections in donated blood within a week

The Delhi government is planning new means to modernise blood donation in the city.

However, the older schemes are still gathering dust in want of proper management and action.

The government is planning to introduce nucleic acid test (NAT) to test safety of donated blood. The technology used so far takes nearly a month to detect various types of infection in blood.

NAT will reduce this window period to a week or 10 days. Thus, the blood wastage will be less as donated blood should not be used after 45 days of donation.

"We are introducing the modern technique of NAT to reduce the window of infection. It is especially useful for detection of Hepatitis," said state health secretary Anshu Prakash.

A centralised NAT facility is likely to come up under the public-private partnership (PPP) model. Prakash said within two months the tender will be floated in which a company will be asked to set up and manage the machine.

"We hope to start it in this financial year. We will make it mandatory to do all the testing through NAT," said Prakash. Apart from some private hospitals and blood banks run by NGOs, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, both under the Central government, have NAT facility.

However, another scheme to help patients immensely, is waiting its implementation. In 2002, the Delhi government linked blood banks of Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital in west Delhi, Lok Nayak Hospital in central Delhi and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in east Delhi through computer.

 This made it easy to locate availability of blood in the three hospitals, helping patients to get blood from other hospitals in case their blood group was not available in the one they were admitted.

Project does not take off

The government discontinued the facility in 2007 saying it will be extended to all the government blood banks. The contract was to be given to a NOIDA-based private firm. But the project has not taken off till now.

Delhi’s need is of 4.5 lakh units of blood a year. Sixty-five per cent of it comes through voluntary donation.

“This is a huge jump. Till five years ago we used to get only 25 per cent through voluntary donation,” said Dr Bharat Singh, director, State Blood Transfusion Council.
Rest of the blood comes from replacement donation in which attendants of a patient arrange for blood in exchange of blood of patient’s group.

“We always have shortage of negative blood of all groups. Only seven per cent of population has negative group. But when a person of this category falls sick, he or she needs six to seven units, which becomes tough to manage,” said Dr Singh.

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