The Centre has received a proposal from the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to raise the price of blood per unit — 350 cc — in hospitals by 140%. If the Centre gives the go-ahead, the cost of one unit of blood will shoot up to Rs 1,200 from Rs 500. What’s more, once government hospitals raise rates, private hospitals — where the minimum charge is around Rs 800 — are likely to follow suit.
Currently, India has an annual shortage of about 2 mn units of blood. For a population of 1.2 bn, India needs 12 mn units annually. Ideally, if 1% of the total eligible population — healthy adults aged between 18 and 65 years and weighing over 45 kg — donates blood every year, there would be no shortage. A healthy adult can donate blood four times a year.
In government blood banks, only voluntary blood donors carrying valid cards get blood for free for their relatives. BPL (below poverty line) patients get blood in government hospitals at Rs 50 per unit.
The NACO proposal came after a recent meeting of its committee on blood in Delhi.
In Delhi, the Indian Red Cross Society collects 30,000 units of blood annually. “Of this, 88% is given free to government hospitals and the 900 thalassaemics registered with us,” said Dr SP Agarwal, secretary general, Indian Red Cross Society.
“After its broken into components, 50,000 people benefit from it. Private hospitals and clinics are charged R850 for whole blood and red blood cells, and R400 for components such as fresh frozen plasma and platelet concentrate,” Dr Agarwal added.