By Ashish Srivastava
New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) The Covid-19 pandemic ensued a significant reduction in blood donation across the globe due to a pan-lockdown, panic, cessation of blood donation camps and disruption of transport services, which lead to postponement of all elective transfusion requirements.
The shortage happened due to schools, universities and corporates, which were the biggest contributors to blood collection, which no longer were permitted to station blood drives on their property.
However, the unprecedented decline in India is filling up fast and the blood donations are now approaching to its pre-Covid level, Sunil Gupta, the doctor who is also the additional director-general of Centre-run National AIDS control Organisation (NACO) told IANS.
“We have recovered almost 80 per cent of our targets we were hitting before the pandemic,” he informed.
Gupta told IANS that there is a place to place variation in recovery of the voluntary blood donations in the country.
“At some place, it is completely normal while at some, it is still lagging.
“States such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are particularly very active in voluntary blood donations. At the same time, some states like Uttar Pradesh are lagging and there is a huge gap. However, overall, we are closing to the pre-Covid levels,” he said.
Gupta, who is also director at National Blood Transfusion Council, informed that the decline in the voluntary blood donation was severe in April to and June when the lockdown was in full force.
“By end of July there was a quiet improvement in blood collection from the bleak scenario in March end and April. Now our collection is almost close to that of pre-Covid times. Now, each month is performing better than its subsidiary month,” he added.
Gupta said that restrictions of commuting during the lockdown, schools, colleges and offices being shut and scared of contracting the virus led to a pitfall in the donations. However, things are getting back to normal, he added.
“The transport sector, by and large , has resumed except the Railways. The scare of Covid-19 which earlier prevailed has also come down contributing to the improvement of the blood donations,” Gupta said.
As the blood donations saw a severe hit, the Indian demand for transfusion, majorly for medical conditions such as thalassemia, haemato-oncology, blood dyscrasias and nutritional anaemia, multi-folded critically.
Amita Mahajan, senior consultant, pediatric hematology & oncology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi said that the hospitals had to take special measures in order to continue the blood donation as well as allay the fear of Covid.
“During the pandemic, patients were scared to come to the hospital and donors as they were scared of contracting Covid. It was also not possible to hold blood donation camps as maintaining social distance would have become extremely difficult.
To resolve these issues, we made separate entries and exits for voluntary donors at the hospital. We issued special movement passes to donors and reached out to previous donors and assured them of safety during donation.”
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) had recently concluded a webinar regarding blood donation awareness in India.
Speaking on the matter, Anil Rajput, Chairman, Assocham CSR Council said: “There is an urgent need to sensitize people regarding blood donation as it could save lives of lakh of children suffering from Thalassemia.”