Amid depleting stock and inconvenience suffered by patients, the Maharashtra government, on Thursday, decided to provide blood free of cost to patients at state-run hospitals in Maharashtra, from December 12. Coincidentally, it is also the 80th birthday of Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar that day.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope told The Free Press Journal, “Patients will not have to pay processing charges of Rs 800 from Saturday onwards. The blood will be provided free of cost at government hospitals, including 36 district hospitals, 200 sub-district hospitals, 350 regional hospitals, 5,000 primary health centres, 1,800 sub-centres. Besides, blood will also be provided for free at hospitals runs by civic bodies and those attached to medical colleges in the state.’’ He said the proposed initiative would be implemented under the National Health Mission.
He was speaking after donating blood along with his party colleague and NCP Lok Sabha MP Supriya Sule here. Tope said there were 344 active blood banks in the state. He observed that the state was facing a shortage of blood supply chiefly because people were avoiding crowds in view of the coronavirus outbreak, for fear of catching the infection.
Otherwise, Maharashtra was usually well-stocked with blood, Tope said. A special blood donation drive is going to be organised in the state from December 13 to 20, to celebrate the NCP chief's birthday.
Tope said after his appeal,citizens had begun coming forward to donate. He admitted that the existing stock was enough to last for five to six days. More blood is necessary, as Covid-19 patients may face hardships in the wake of blood storage, he noted.