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Costs of platelets go up as dengue cases rise

Bhakti Makwana

bhakti.m@iijnm.org

Dengue patient and her relative at Victoria Hospital

Bangalore, Sept 5, 2017:With an increase in the number of dengue cases in the city, prices of platelets have gone up.
“I had to pay Rs. 600 per unit of platelets in the government hospital where it costs Rs. 400,” says Guddu Raj, a relative of Rahul Raj admitted in Victoria Hospital due to dengue.
Platelets are supposed to be available nearly free of cost in government hospitals. “Platelets for Below Poverty Line card holders are free of cost and at a time only six pints of component can be given to one person. With increasing demand, patients have to buy components from private blood banks where they charge a high price,” says Dr. Kartik G, Medical Doctor in Victoria Hospital.
Private blood banks like Jeeva Voluntary Blood Bank, Dr. Rajkumar Blood Bank, Lions Blood Bank, Bangalore Blood Bank and Grace Blood Bank are selling platelets at various prices ranging from Rs. 700 to Rs. 900.
The Karnataka State Blood Transfusion Council (KSBTC) set guidelines in 2015 for the sale of platelets.

These guidelines say that platelets will be sold at Rs. 200 for general patients and will be given free of cost for Below Poverty Line card holders in government hospitals. Non-government hospitals shall sell it for Rs. 800 after Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT).

Dengue ward in Victoria Hospital

“We have to say no to 45 per cent of the people [who come for platelets] and send them to other blood banks as we are short of platelets since last three months due to more dengue patients,” said Dr. R. Sreelatha, H.O.D. of Transfusion Medicine Department in Victoria Hospital. Doctors in government hospitals say that private blood banks take advantage of the shortage and sell platelets at high prices.“We are not able to fulfill the demand for platelets due to less blood camps and are forced to let patients buy from private blood bank in high price,” says Amish Reddy, person-in-charge of Blood bank in Bowring Lady Curzon Hospital, Shivaji Nagar.
“To meet the demand of blood components we are working on opening more blood camps and spreading blood donation awareness,” added Sreelatha. The procedure for separating platelets from blood components takes a few hours.

“The reason for shortage of blood components is because of the new trend of separating components which wasn’t there many years back. Earlier we use to transfuse blood directly from one person to another person. Today it takes around eight hours for the whole procedure of separation of blood components which is time consuming and requires utmost attention and care,” says Dr. R Shreelatha, who is also Professor at Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute.

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