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Center’s Order on Free Blood Flouted

The Center’s order on providing blood free of cost to patients in government hospitals has not been implemented in Punjab so far. On February 7, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in collaboration with the National Health Mission (NHM), had issued a circular in this regard for all states and union territories. In the circular, it was stated that to strengthen the services of blood storage units and component separation units and to encourage blood donation, all blood banks in government hospitals should ensure that no money was charged from the patients. Although no public health facilities in the state charge for blood, they are collecting processing charges at rates ranging from ₹50 to ₹1050 per unit.

In the district, ₹300 is charged from any Civil Hospital patient and ₹1000 from those coming from private hospitals, said Dr Gagandeep Singh, blood transfusion officer at the blood bank of the Civil Hospital. Medical Superintendent, Civil Hospital, Jasmeet Walia said she was not aware of such guidelines issued by the NHM. The NHM had said that the processing charges not only added to the out-of-pocket expenditure at point-of-care to patients, but also discouraged blood donation. Dr Sukhwinder Singh, director, state blood cell and NHM nodal officer, said the delay in implementing the order was due to incomplete paperwork regarding the circular. He assured that the guideline would be executed a month later as most of the officers were currently on election duty. – Tribune India