Blood donation declines sharply in West Bengal in poll season

Students’ unions and trade unions that actively participate in blood donation camps are busy campaigning

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Monday 17 August 2015

The ongoing general election seems to have adversely affected blood donation and  availability of blood in West Bengal.

Secretary of West Bengal Voluntary Blood Donators’ Forum (WBVBDF), Apurba Ghosh, said that generally 10,000 units of blood are collected through voluntary donors in a month.

In April, it is estimated that hardly 4,000 units of blood would be collected. “It is a tough time and I am getting at least 100 desperate calls in each day for blood, but I am helpless,” he said.

Generally, collection of blood goes down in summer but the problem multiplies when polls take place, he said. The real crisis is for people of negative blood groups who may require blood. Only 4-5 per cent of collected blood is negative. There are around 100 blood banks in the state of which 70 per cent are government blood banks.
The shortage has led to unnecessary pressure on relatives of patients. Some of them are being asked to donate thrice the blood they need for their ward, Ghosh said.

The reason for shortage of donors is that all trade unions, students’ groups get involved in poll campaign and don’t have time for blood donation, he added. Earlier, political leaders were enthusiastically participating in blood donation camps but the Election Commission of India (ECI) has clearly instructed district administration to restrict such things, he said, adding that it is good decision as nobody should be allowed to take mileage or politicise blood donation.

Ghosh said the ECI needs to think about a new strategy for restricting the impact of poll campaign on such important health activities.
But polling seems to have had little impact on blood donation in other states. When contacted, joint director of Gujarat State Council for Blood Transfusion, M D Gajjar, said the poll season has not influenced blood donation. Similarly, spokesperson of Red Cross from Delhi also denied any such development in the states.

Ghosh says blood donation in states like Gujarat, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh may not be experiencing blood donation shortage because political leaders are not involved in mobilizing people. But in West Bengal and Tripura, health authorities rely on political leaders for blood donation and trade unions and students’ unions play significant role, he added.

Feature: The knowledge, attitude and practice towards blood donation among voluntary blood donors in Chennai, India

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