KARACHI: At least 170 illegal blood banks established across the province since 2013 have been sealed, the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority (SBTA) announced on Monday.
According to SBTA secretary Dr Zahid Ansari, 23 blood banks, including registered ones, have been sealed since January this year. “There is a very strict policy regarding medial standards that have to be maintained at a blood bank,” he said. In a meeting with Sindh health minister Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar and health secretary Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo, he informed that 157 blood banks are presently active across the province, with 85 in Karachi and 72 in other parts of the province.
He elaborated that there are only 43 government blood banks while the rest are being run by private organisations, hospitals and NGOs.
Dahar directed the SBTA chief to strictly formulate the registration criteria as no one should be allowed to operate a substandard blood bank anywhere in the province. “Transparency should be maintained as it is a matter of human lives, and credentials of pathologists and other staff working at blood banks must be verified,” said the minister.
Ansari said 16 blood banks were sealed in Naseerabad and Kambar-Shahdadkot, three in Karachi, two in Sukkur and two in Larkana during this year’s crackdown. Talking about the government-registered facilities that were shut down, Ansari said, “Some registered facilities don’t meet the criteria [and were thus closed down].”
According to the Sindh Save Blood Act, 1997, which was later amended in 2005, the maximum fine for operating an illegal blood bank is Rs500,000 and imprisonment of three years.
The yearly fee for a blood bank is Rs10,000 while the registration fee is Rs30,000. “But we don’t register any new facilities now,” said Ansari, clarifying that unless a reputed organisation applies for a licence they have banned new registrations.
“We are very careful in issuing licences due to illegal practices,” he explained.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2016.