Maharashtra government's Blood-on-Call service yet to deliver
Over a year after the state launched its much anticipated ‘Blood On Call’ service, Mumbaikars are yet to benefit from it, as the authorities continue to drag their feet in setting up the system that had promised immediate delivery of blood to patients in need, anywhere in the city.
The blood on call scheme was to ensure that blood would be delivered directly to citizens, but this is yet to happen as the government has not set up the system yet. Representation Pic/Thinkstock
As things stand, citizens are forced to either go all the way to the primary blood bank (Sir JJ Mahanagar Raktapedhi) in Byculla or put up with the erratic rates demanded by private institutions.
When former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had launched the State Blood Transfusion Committee’s (SBTC) blood delivery service also known as Jeevan Amrut Seva on January 7, 2014, he had assured that citizens would merely have to call on the toll-free number 104 and specify the blood group and quantity needed, and blood bags (each at Rs 450) would be delivered to the doorstep within a stipulated time.
The state had announced that it would set up 34 government-run blood banks in the state’s 35 districts. In Mumbai, Sir JJ Mahanagar Raktapedhi was to be the primary blood bank, while nine other storage centres would be set up to ensure that each centre could provide immediate blood supply in a 50-km radius.
“In an emergency, every minute counts. Now, with ‘Blood On Call’, people can call 104 and blood will be delivered on motorbikes within an hour,” ex-health minister Suresh Shetty had said. Nearly fifteen months later, however, the SBTC has failed to set up the blood storage centres.
According to sources, the system has been held up due to unavailability of equipment, as the tenders for the same have also been delayed. As a result, the scheme is still out of reach for those Mumbaikars who reside outside the 50-km radius of the Byculla blood bank. Dr Sandip Salokhe, medical director at Sir JJ Mahanagar Raktapedhi, he said the centre is trying to keep the scheme alive, ensuring that no caller is turned down.
“We have facilitated over 645 patients till date and have attended over 2,500 enquiries. Though we can’t provide blood on call for people staying in different parts of the city, whenever we receive a call, we try and make alternate arrangements so that their requirement is met,” he said, adding that the storage centres will soon be set up as a few decisions are now in the final phase.
The SBTC had proposed setting up nine blood storage centres across the city:
>> Vasai Municipal Corporation
>> Bombay Port Trust Hospital at Wadala
>> Bhabha Hospital at Kurla
>> ESIS Hospital at Mulund
>> V N Desai Hospital at Santacruz
>> BMC Hospital at Malwani
>> Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital at Byculla
>> Dayanand Hospital at Dahanu
>> Shatabdi Hospital at Kandivli
While the authorities have proposed that the nine blood storage centres will run 24x7 once they are set up, mid-day has retrieved documents under the RTI Act which indicate that the SBTC will only hire one technician to look after each centre, apart from nursing staff. With such inadequate manpower, perhaps the scheme will run into more roadblocks in the future as well.