More than a year after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) gave the final nod to build the Metro blood blank on the premises of Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital in Sion,the project seems to have come to a standstill. There has been no construction work on the Rs 340-crore project through the past year despite officials completing preliminary site visits and inspections.
The construction of the blood bank is a distant step. First,the residents of the buildings,which will be demolished to make way for the blood bank,need to be informed. However,no one has been notified yet. The project has been on hold for a long time, said Dr Alok Sharma,head of the neurosurgery department at Sion Hospital.
At a recent meeting,the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health had pulled up the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) for failing to make progress in establishing metro blood banks in New Delhi,Mumbai,Chennai and Kolkata.
The World Bank-funded project was named the Centre of Excellence (COE) for Transfusion Medicine and was to be facilitated by the Maharashtra District AIDS Control Society (MDACS),the local branch of NACO. Sources said after the retirement of MDACS director Dr S Kudalkar this year,no one is pushing for the progress of the blood bank. Kudalkar,however,said the proposal is still pending with the Central government,which has resulted in the delay of construction.
The project is still in the sanction phase. Once the money is released and local authorities get the work order,things will step up, Kudalkar said.
Dean of Sion Hospital,Dr Sandhya Kamath,said construction will start soon. Once we get a green signal from the Central government,we will start work immediately, Kamath said.
In 2010,Mumbai showed a deficit of 85,363 units of blood. While attempts have been made to decrease this deficit by conducting regular blood donation drives,doctors feel a state-of-the-art blood bank,which will provide all the four components of blood,is a priority for Mumbai.
Blood requirements could include platelets,packed cells,cryoprecipitate or plasma. Very often,emergency cases get aggravated because of the lack of availability of the right component of blood. This was evident in the past week when the Sion Hospital blood bank faced licence suspension. We need to have a centralised and better equipped blood bank in the city, said a senior doctor of Sion Hospital.
The COE will be well-equipped with a capacity for storing up to one lakh units of blood. Among other facilities,the centre will have a nucleic acid testing facility,biotechnology lab,cord banking and stem cell facilities.