Govt to finally put hi-tech mobile blood bank to use

HT Correspondent

Kolkata, Nov. 8 -- The health department headed by chief minister Mamata Banerje has finally decided to utilise the state's sole Volvo-like bus for voluntary blood donation camps (VBDC). The swanky jumbo bus wroth Rs. 1.35 crore has been gathering dust since 2010 at the state health transport depot at Moulali.

Dr Rashmi Kamal, director of West Bengal State AIDS Prevention & Control Society (WBSAP&CS), issued a circular on October 31, directing all state-run medical colleges in Kolkata as well as the Central Blood Bank (CBB) at Maniktala to utilise the vehicle for voluntary blood donation and collection programmes.

"From now on, medical colleges or CBB will get the vehicle after submission of requisition on a first-come-first-serve basis," said PS Pal, joint director in charge, state health transport pool.

National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), under the Union ministry for Health, sent the hi-tech caravan to Bengal for the collection and transportation of blood in VBDCs across the state about two years ago.

However, the huge bus had become a headache for the health department because of its non-utilisation. The health department had even requested NACO to take the bus back as soon a possible.

"We have made several requests to the NACO authorities, to take the vehicle, imported from China, back to Delhi, because it has no viability in Kolkata. The bus is not costeffective. We have to spend Rs. 10,000 for a single trip, moving it from a VBDC in Kolkata for hardly eight hours. It requires 500 litres diesel and 50 litres of petrol. Petrol is required to operate the AC, refrigerator and three LCD TVs installed in the bus," Pal said.

He added that the bus moved out of the depot for a maximum of eight times for various VBDCs held in the city, since it was brought to Bengal. It could move only in main thoroughfares in the city.

"The hi-tech bus is equipped with a all-modernback-ups ystem. This bus is so spacious that a mini camp can be organised inside it when the organisers don't have a venue for the VBDC,"said as enior official at the blood safety wing under the WBSAP&CS.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.