The Union Health Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has today, inaugurated a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAT) lab at the national headquarters of Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) in Delhi. The lab has been set up by the Thalassemia Patients Advocacy Group (TPAG), the patient wing of Thalassemics India as part of their Safe Blood Campaign to prevent transmission of infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, C or HIV through blood transfusions. The event also involved the launch of Thalassemics India three blood collection vehicles – 2 vans funded by DXC and 1 tempo travelers funded by LIC – were also launched during the event. This was Thalassemics’ India’s contribution for voluntary blood donation.
Praising the efforts undertaken by the patient body, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “Blood is a life-saving resource in the healthcare system especially for Thalassemia patients who regularly require blood transfusion. While, the government of India is taking relevant steps towards prevention and better management of Thalassemia in the country, these steps to initiate blood collection vans and advanced blood-screening technology are just in the right direction to support safe-blood availability for the patients. I am overwhelmed that a feat of this stature has been undertaken by a body like TPAG that is run and led by patients. I commit my support.”
Appealing to the masses for blood donation, Dr. Vardhan added, “Blood donation is a noble cause which can save lives of patients during any medical emergencies or chronic health conditions like Thalassemia and Blood Cancer. It is my earnest request to every adult below the age of 65 years to come forward to donate blood and make this world a better place.”
Sharing her thoughts on the launch of the lab, Anubha Taneja Mukherjee, Member Secretary, Thalassemia Patients Advocacy Group, said, “We are extremely proud and delighted to introduce the NAT lab in the heart of Delhi at the Headquarters of an international organization of repute like IRCS. The organisation has been playing a major role during this pandemic situation alongside the government in maintaining an adequate supply of safe blood for patients like us. NAT is a world class blood screening methodology believed to be extremely effective in screening TTIs due to its reduced window period. The technology is even more relevant for patients of thalassemia, who depend on frequent transfusion and are more susceptible to infections as compared to others.”
The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), in an RTI, shared that around 1,342 people across India have contracted the HIV infection due to blood transfusion in 2018-19, giving rise to serious safety and quality concerns. However, scientifically proven testing processes such as NAT would significantly reduce the window phase of transfusion transmissible infections (TTI) and help in improving blood safety.