Days after mid-day reported that Mumbai’s blood banks are running with just 57 per cent of the required staff strength, yesterday this paper carried another disheartening revelation — three of the city’s eight blood banks have been functioning without licences.
The three blood banks — at Sion, Nair and Rajawadi hospitals — had applied to renew their expired permits, but the process has been delayed by the Food and Drug Authority (the licensing authority) on the grounds of much pending work.
One cannot fathom why such an important thing like a licence has not been issued to these blood banks. This may sound like a technical detail — akin to driving without a permit — it is nevertheless a vital cog in the machinery that ensures accountability and quality.
This also begs the question, why has the process been delayed for years when it can be completed in six months? Why has there been no decision, of either renewal or cancellation? One also wonders whether blood should even be donated to a bank which is operating without licence. If, for instance, something unfortunate happens, like the bank gives someone infected blood, who should be held responsible? The victim could complain, but how effective would that be when the blood bank wasn’t even licensed?
While on the one hand, we are witnessing a real push in campaigns for donation, whether it be for blood or organs, on the other, the city is still grappling with shortage of blood — especially of certain groups — as well as a severe staff crunch at blood banks. In such times, let us at least have basic processes moving smoothly and effectively, like the issuing of licences.
The concerned authorities must then make a real effort to plug this gap, keep the files moving, make decisions in time, to ensure that blood banks are not forced to play a waiting game or entangled in red tape.