GUWAHATI, Aug 27 � Poor public awareness and absence of sustained initiatives have made voluntary blood donation in Assam a matter of concern. People in large numbers remain apathetic about donating blood, and this has stymied the collection and supply of the life saving fluid.
Even though some efforts are being made to change the trend, Assam does not compare favourably with some other states in regard to voluntary and non-remunerative blood donation.
In Guwahati, Dibrugarh, and Silchar with large medical college hospitals, many patients still have to endure difficulty in acquiring blood, especially if the required volume is considerable or the blood type is rare.
Doctors in the Gauhati Medical College Hospital while acknowledging improvements of the facility admit that there is scope of augmenting the operation surrounding blood collection, storage and supply. �Access to blood needs to be made less time consuming as often loss of time is detrimental to the condition of a patient,� said a senior doctor who wished anonymity.
When contacted, a source in Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh said there were some blood types which are rare, and patients can have a hard time in acquiring them as donors are hard to come by.
Similar situations persist in all the major hospitals, where patients regularly face constraints in getting blood at the right time. Reports suggest that even in cities procuring blood becomes a test of patience if it is needed during night time.
Absence of people�s initiatives in donating blood on a voluntary basis is a major hurdle in collecting blood. Most people remain unaware that donating blood from time to time does not harm the donor in anyway. Instead, it enables the creation of fresh blood that is beneficial to the body.
Dr G Talukdar, who has practiced in Guwahati as well as some other areas of Assam said that due to absence of sufficient voluntary blood donors professional donors are quite active, and collude with some private blood banks to maintain their supply. �Blood from professional donors are usually inferior compared to that from healthy voluntary donors,� he remarked.
Some professional donors give blood very frequently, which affects the quality of blood, and harms them as well. Among professional donors there are also people who have history of substance abuse, who therefore cannot be described as healthy.
The importance of voluntary blood donation camps has been reiterated by doctors and donor groups, and there have been some success in this area. The students of IIT Guwahati and the Charlie Company of NCC in Arya Vidyapeeth College have earned kudos for organizing and taking part in blood donation camps. However, only a handful of other institutes have been able to sustain similar efforts.