How many thalassemia patients got free blood transfusion, asks HC

The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the state and central government to submit a report on the number of patients suffering from thalassemia and haemophilia blood disorders, who had been given free blood transfusions in government-run hospitals.

The directions were issued after the court of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Manmohan were informed that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had issued guidelines in January 2008 that "no cost should be charged for issue of blood/blood components to patients of thalassemia and haemophilia, who require repeated blood transfusion a life saving measure".

The governing body of the National Blood Transfusion Council in June 2009 affirmed the policy and had issued instructions to all NACO supported blood banks that "no service charge should be levied for issue of blood/blood components to patients of thalassemia, haemophilia and sickle cell disease".

"The policy is there but do people know about it?" the court said after the government lawyer submitted a copy of the Health Ministry's orders.

The court also asked the government lawyer whether any data was available on the number of patients receiving free treatment. "Give us the data on the next date of hearing," the court said.

The parents of an eight-year-old thalassemia patient had approached the Delhi High Court for aid, claiming that they could not afford the treatment, and needed free treatment to save the life of their child.

The court had called for replies from the Centre and state government, AIIMS, major blood banks, and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, which has been treating the child.

The court had taken suo motu notice of a letter sent by the Pitampura-based couple to the High Court, which had claimed that the fundamental right to life of their child and others suffering from the disease was being violated because the treatment costs for blood transfusion and bone marrow transplant were very high and parents were left to bear the cost themselves.

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