Why Is There A Blood Shortage In India

India today faces a shortage of 10% relative to its blood requirements. In absolute terms, this means that we require to cover a shortfall of over 12 lakh units. Given that the eligible donor population of India is more than 512 million, this deficit is surprising. This World Blood Donor Day let's understand this.

Why Is There A Blood Shortage In India

World Blood Donor Day 2017: The eligible donor population of India is more than 512 million

Awareness about blood donation in India is sharply skewed. While some states, like Delhi are able to accumulate 233% extra blood than what is required, other needy states like Bihar face a deficit of as much as 85%. The cause for this wide difference in blood donation is primarily the lack of knowledge about its simple process in the lesser-developed states and the various unfounded myths that people have harboured over the centuries. On the whole, India today faces a shortage of 10% relative to its blood requirements. In absolute terms, this means that we require to cover a shortfall of over 12 lakh units. Given that the eligible donor population of India is more than 512 million, this deficit is surprising. But it also means that the shortage of blood supply can be covered within a day. If only we contribute.

Also Read: World Blood Donor Day 2017: Things You Should Know Before Donating Blood

The Need For Blood


With more than 1200 road crashes occurring every day in India, 60 million trauma induced surgeries are performed in the country every year. The 230 million major operations, 331 million cancer related procedures like chemotherapy and 10 million pregnancy complications all require blood transfusion. Besides this, patients being treated for sickle cell anemia, thalassemia and haemophilia require large quantities of blood daily.

Another reason for the shortage of blood is the ban on payment to blood donors that was enacted in 1995. Previously almost one-third of the blood supply was from paid donors. But with the ban, both private and government hospitals have faced a larger shortage. However, difficult as it may be, this ban has also prevented unsafe blood donations where often people contaminated with communicable diseases appeared for paid donation frequently.

A Ray Of Hope

Voluntary blood donations increased from just 54.3% in 2006 to 83% at the end of 2012. The shortfall has also gone down from 17% to the present 9% of the blood requirement. Credit for this can be attributed to the many NGOs and blood bank organisations that have been operating in India, trying to sensitize the public of the benefits of blood donation. Notable among these like the Rotary, Red Cross, Save life, Sankalp and Lions have also been crucial in dispelling blood donation myths that prevent a large percentage of the population from coming forward to donate.

State-wise Performance

In 2016, while 16 states and UTs faced a shortage of blood supply, 18  had an excess of it. States like Sikkim, who initially faced a shortfall had increased availability by 22%, leading to a surplus of 4%. Generally, Maharashtra, Punjab and Kerala are the best performers in blood donation, with each state having an excess of blood supply of more than 35%.
However, sadly, incidents of wastage of blood units collected are frequent to happen in such states. Shelf life of collected blood is only 30-45 days, which means excess of blood needs to be soon sent to all needy areas. According to a reply made to an RTI, the Mumbai District AIDS COntrol Society revealed that over 130,000 liters of blood had been wasted between January 2011 and December 2015 due to over storing.

On the other end of the scale are poor performing states like Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Meghalaya who have struggled to meet their blood requirements by more than 50%.

Also Read: Do You Stop Yourself From Donating Blood? Debunking Top 6 Myths About Blood Donation
 
 
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