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Enhancing Blood Safety: A Call For Funding Support For NAT Lab And Nationwide Implementation

Advanced viral nucleic acid detection capabilities of NAT surpass traditional serology tests, enabling early virus identification and reducing the risk of transmission.
06:29 PM Jan 20, 2024 IST | News24 Desk
enhancing blood safety  a call for funding support for nat lab and nationwide implementation

- Pradyut Bordoloi

Member of Parliament

Currently, approximately 10 to 15 lakh individuals are living with thalassemia in India, dependent on fortnightly blood transfusions throughout their lives, and our nation witnesses the addition of 10,000–20,000 new thalassemia patients annually, contributing to the healthcare burden. In my recent letter addressed to Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, I appealed for funding support for the Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) Lab and its nationwide implementation in government hospitals. This appeal stems from the alarming prevalence of thalassemia in India, where our nation, unfortunately, holds the dubious distinction of being the thalassemia capital of the world. There is a need to emphasize the significance of the NAT lab inaugurated at the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) Headquarters in Delhi. This laboratory, inaugurated by former Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, plays a crucial role in enhancing blood safety and addressing the challenges posed by thalassemia in the capital. Considering the Hon’ble Health Minister's ex-officio role as the Chairman of IRCS, there should be an appropriate allocation of funds to ensure the continued sustenance of this vital facility.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare should issue directives to all state governments, emphasizing the need for safe blood and recommending the widespread adoption of NAT technology in all government hospitals. NAT, already successfully implemented in states such as Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir, has demonstrated its effectiveness by ensuring 99.99 percent blood safety. Its advanced viral nucleic acid detection capabilities surpass traditional serology tests, enabling early virus identification and reducing the risk of transmission. Furthermore, the implementation of NAT could facilitate voluntary blood donation from the transgender community, contributing significantly to the enhancement of blood availability. Adopting NAT aligns with the globally recognized gold standard, as embraced by the United States and the European Union, resulting in a notable decrease in transfusion-related infections. I seek your support and judicious intervention to champion the swift implementation of NAT in government hospitals, thereby enhancing blood safety nationwide. This critical issue demands urgent consideration and support.

Thalassemia remains a persistent health concern in India, emphasizing the critical need for a comprehensive and nationally regulated approach to ensure safe and sufficient blood for all patients. A well-coordinated system encompassing blood collection, testing, processing, storage, and distribution is imperative to meet the transfusion requirements of diverse patients. Sensitizing the public about thalassemia and fostering awareness for voluntary blood donations are essential steps to bridge the demand-supply gaps and ensure a steady and reliable blood source. To enhance safety measures, there should be a standardized blood screening protocol for all donated blood, eliminating any potential risks of transfusion-transmissible infections. Thus, for enhancing blood safety, a call for funding support for the NAT Lab and nationwide implementation can pave the way for a more effective and sustainable strategy in the ongoing fight against thalassemia in India.

(The views expressed by the author are personal in nature and do not represent the views of News24)

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