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Blood banks don’t have licences, proper test kits: CAG indicts Uttarakhand CM who is also health minister

While the report on blood banks was submitted in June 2018, the CAG said, a reply was awaited till August 2019. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat holds the Health portfolio.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Dehradun |
December 19, 2019 4:02:40 am
Blood banks don’t have licences, proper test kits: CAG indicts Uttarakhand CM who is also health minister The blood bank at B D Pandey district hospital, Pithoragarh

A COMPTROLLER and Auditor General of India (CAG) report for the year ended March 31, 2018, tabled in the Uttarakhand Assembly on Tuesday, said that out of 35 blood banks in the state, 13 (including 12 government) have been running with licences that expired five months to 20 years ago. At one blood bank, in B D Pandey District Hospital, Pithoragarh, expired testing kits were utilised for cross-matching of blood, while kits used for testing syphilis were found to be past their expiry date.

While the report on blood banks was submitted in June 2018, the CAG said, a reply was awaited till August 2019. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat holds the Health portfolio.

The CAG report also found that equipment at blood banks located in Kashipur, Haldwani and Roorkee had not been calibrated since 2016, at the Pithoragarh hospital since 2015 and at STM College Haldwani since 2017. Non-calibration of equipment at prescribed intervals can lead to inaccurate readings.

Secretary, Medical, Health and Family Welfare, Nitesh Kumar Jha was not available for comment.

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The audit on functioning of blood banks in Uttarakhand covered the period 2015-16 to 2017-18 and was carried out between March and May 2018 through a check of records of State Drug Controllers, the State Blood Transfusion Council, office of the Director General, Health, and eight state government blood banks that collected the maximum blood units during the period.

The CAG said one reason the centres got away with the irregularities was non-inspection by licensing authorities.

About the Pithoragarh district hospital blood bank, the CAG report said it violated the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, had been operating without a valid licence since 1998, and had ignored shortcomings pointed out by successive inspection teams, in 2002, 2007 and 2018. These shortcomings included the lack of sterilisation and a wash room, storage of consumable items at a laboratory meant for transmissible diseases, and the use of rapid kids method alone and not ELISA for testing of transmissible diseases. Stock records of the hospital showed the blood bank did not have the required number of test kits for screening of malaria and syphilis either.

The CAG pointed out that no stringent action had been taken by the licensing authority against it despite all these shortcomings, endangering the lives of both donors and recipients.

The Drugs and Cosmetics Act specifies that collected blood be screened for diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis B & C, malaria and syphilis. “During February 2, 2017 to March 31, 2018, 1,194 blood units were screened without screening for malaria and during July 21, 2016, to March 31, 2018, 707 blood units were screened without screening for syphilis,” the CAG report said.

Other deficiencies found at the Pithoragarh hospital included unhygienic conditions and the use of candle flame to seal blood bags instead of tube sealers.

Pithoragarh’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Usha Gunjyal directed all queries to the hospital’s Principal Medical Superintendent H S Kharayat, who has submitted a report on the matter. Speaking to The Indian Express, Kharayat questioned the CAG findings. “After its report, I inspected the blood bank. It got a licence one year back and this is valid till 2022. All equipment are properly maintained and used in hygienic conditions.”

Kharayat claimed that when the CAG team visited the blood bank, the staff was on leave. “Audit officials interacted with Class IV staff, like ward boys, and made the report.”

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