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Karnataka to set up four region-specific blood centres of excellence

To ensure uniform distribution and consistency in the quality and safety of blood and blood products across the State, the Health and Family Welfare Department will soon set up four region-wise centres of excellence (CoEs).

These CoEs, which will serve as repositories or mother blood banks, are being planned to ensure that patients and their relatives do not scramble for blood in times of crisis, especially in rural areas. Despite the State having 230 blood banks, including 43 government banks, most of the time patients are made to run from one bank to another to procure blood units. The proposal, which will be placed at the next Cabinet meeting for approval, is likely to be implemented by the end of March 2020.

“The functioning of the four centres — to be set up in Bengaluru, Hubballi, Ballari and Mangaluru — will be based on a hub-and-spoke model. Each centre will be attached to the blood banks in the region and will coordinate to ensure there is no shortage in any bank. Karnataka will be the first State to have such a system in place,” Health Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey told The Hindu on Thursday.

The four CoEs will be fully automated and accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers. “Quality control will be the main focus. While ensuring availability of blood across the State, it is most important to ensure quality and safety,” the Commissioner said.

A senior official in the Blood Safety division said the existing blood banks at government medical colleges in Victoria Hospital, affiliated to Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bengaluru; Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences in Hubballi; Vijayanagar Institute of Medical Sciences in Ballari; and Wenlock District Hospital in Mangaluru will be upgraded with complete automation and quality assurance equipment.

“As we do not need new buildings for these facilities, we are working on upgrades. We will start procuring the equipment once the Cabinet approval is granted. While the government has allocated ₹10 crore for this, we may need additional funds and have submitted a proposal in this regard,” the official said.

Collection target and voluntary donation

Although the State’s blood collection is usually in excess of what is required every year, not more than 85% of this is through voluntary donation. While the State’s requirement is over 7.5 lakh units a year, the collection is over 8 lakh units — a 110% achievement. This year, the department met its target in September itself.

Owing to lack of awareness and misconceptions about blood donation, the voluntary donation target is not being reached. The Health Department’s aim is to ensure that the State’s entire requirement of blood is met through voluntary donation. And for this, information, education and communication activities have been intensified.

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