World Red Cross Day 2020: Is donating blood safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The international Red Cross community has very humanitarian goals and is currently one of the chief forces battling the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontlines.
World Red Cross Day is observed on 8 May every year to acknowledge the principles and work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. This movement aims to provide aid and assistance to everyone in need, without any discrimination. The international Red Cross community has very humanitarian goals and is currently one of the chief forces battling the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontlines.
Why blood donations are necessary right now
Of all its key goals, voluntary blood donation drives make up for a major part of the humanitarian work the Red Cross does in all the countries where it operates. As the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) also points out, “voluntary blood donations from healthy individuals” is very important during this pandemic because patients who depend on regular or sudden blood transfusions due to thalassemia, accidents, anaemia, haemophilia, cancer, kidney disease, etc. are at a greater risk of not getting the blood they require.
This is partially due to the lockdown in place in most parts of India, which limits the movement of individuals to a large extent, and due to the fear that the blood donation process might not be safe. However, the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) and MoHFW have ensured that this fear is unjustified. The MoHFW has issued a set of guidelines for blood donation, and the IRCS is not only complying with these but also trying to facilitate it further during the pandemic.
Precautions taken for blood donation
The IRCS has revealed in a brochure that it’s taking “all precautions to ensure safety of staff, blood donors as well as patients by using thermal scanners, regularly cleaning couches, gloves, masks, etc. with disinfectants and maintaining adequate distance by practising social distancing.” The IRCS has the following criteria for blood donors apart from their regular screenings:
- Temperature scanning is done through thermal scanners.
- All donors are asked to wear masks, head caps, gloves and shoe covers.
- All doctors and nurses wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and take protective measures.
- Blood donation couches are disinfected after every use with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution and new couch sheets are then spread.
- A complete medical history of the donors is taken on the phone to ensure they meet all the health and fitness criteria.
This apart, since the Indian government has declared that blood services are essential services, the IRCS is continuing to hold blood donation camps by sending mobile blood collection units to various localities across Delhi - that too while maintaining infection control and social distancing measures. Two couches at a time instead of four are being used, with a three-metre gap maintained between both couches. Only three people are being allowed into the camp at a time, and the blood donations vans are being disinfected regularly.
Every possible precautionary measure is being taken to ensure the safety of all donors. If you are a healthy individual who is also COVID-19 free, why not donate some blood this World Red Cross Day to help a patient in need?
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