Aside from the impact on public health, social welfare, and the economy, the coronavirus pandemic has caused enormous collateral damage to our healthcare system, with adverse health effects from blood shortages being a critical one.
By Dr. (Prof.) Ajit Sinha,
We are living in historic times. Never before has the world had to deal with a pandemic like Coronavirus in the last century which has pushed the entire world on the brink leading to social as well as economic uncertainties. Aside from the impact on public health, social welfare, and the economy, the coronavirus pandemic has caused enormous collateral damage to our healthcare system, with adverse health effects from blood shortages being a critical one.
Users from all over India are flooding social media with requests for information on oxygen cylinders and hospital beds. However, there isn’t nearly as much information available about the impact of India’s COVID-19 on blood supplies.
A statistic says around the requirement of 13.5 million blood donation only 11 million blood donations are collected for 1.5 billion population every year, 2 million gaps are still uncovered. Last year, the Indian Red Cross Society raised an alarm by saying voluntary blood donation in India has fallen by 100 percent.
India has always struggled to provide an efficient amount of blood to its patients. We have often come across the news of someone dying due to a shortage of blood. Even after the World Health Organizations announced that the donation by 1% population of the country is enough to meet its blood need, India still imports most of the blood for use. Already in crisis, this COVID holocaust has added fuel to the fire. The continuous lockdown due to this deadly virus has impacted those supply. Lockdown shut the schools, colleges, community halls, and many more public places where the camps were organized affecting the blood donations to a larger extent.
Various obstacles have also hampered voluntary blood donation during this period of lockdown. For starters, donors are not going to blood banks or hospitals proactively because they are afraid of contracting coronavirus from such places, which could be exposed to infected patients. Second, the lockdown has restricted the movement of staff at blood collection centres as well as donors, exacerbating the situation. Finally, there has been a lack of awareness among many blood banks and centres about the necessary safety and social distancing protocols for conducting blood collection without endangering personnel and donors.
Smooth blood donations are very necessary to prevent India from succumbing in front of a blood crisis because, in any functional healthcare system, the need for blood is constant. We certainly do not want anyone in need of a blood transfusion to die due to the lack of blood. As a result, in these uncertain times, the government must take necessary actions to ensure the continuity of the blood donation process across India.
The government should conduct awareness campaigns to let people understand the importance of blood donation especially in times like these. They should provide all the necessary equipment to medical staff to conduct the camps. The health worker should also get proper workshops about the latest standard procedures to prevent the spreading of this deadly virus.
Meanwhile, people eligible to donate blood should come forward more and donate blood to prevent India from this crisis. As we should always remember, a little effort by us can save someone’s life.
(The author is Senior Consultant- General & Laparoscopic Surgeon, Diyos Hospital. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult health experts and medical professionals before starting any therapy or medication. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)