Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 7:
The flip-flop by Odisha Health and Family Welfare minister Dr Damodar Rout, who had ordered a probe into the controversial sale of blood plasma by blood banks in the state, has taken many by surprise.
The minister had given an impression earlier that the decision was taken behind his back and that he does not approve of such a decision. However, he has now made a volte-face by almost justifying the move.
“There is nothing wrong with the blood banks selling blood plasma since they were not in use. The plasma would have been damaged if stored for a longer period. However, I would look into the details on whether it is morally justified to sell the blood or its components which the blood banks have received as donation”, Rout told OST.
The minister’s volte-face appears to have been a damage control measure by the state government in view of the massive public outrage the plasma sale controversy has triggered across the state.
According to reports, director of Odisha State AIDS Control Society (OSACS) Dr Nalinikanta Das submitted a report to Rout at the State Secretariat here last evening.
The report, as per the sources in the Health department, said there is a surplus of plasma in several blood banks in the state. However, the plasma would be damaged if they are stored more than the specified time frame.
As per the directive of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), since there are no facilities available to develop life saving drugs from the plasma, they should be sold out to private companies.
The money accrued from the sale, would be utilized in the infrastructure development of the blood banks, the report said.
The report also mentioned about the sale of plasma to Reliance Life Sciences Pvt Ltd (RLSPL) by 22 other states.
“I have a feeling that the decision of the blood banks to sell plasma is right. I have not gone through the OSACS report in detail. Let me do that first before I come to a conclusion”, the Health minister said.
It is worthwhile to mention here that the State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC), had recently directed the blood banks to sell the surplus plasma to RLSPL and the first phase sale of plasma has already happened.
However, following stiff resentment and protests from various quarters after the reports were flashed in the media, the Health minister had, on Sunday, asked the OSCAS director to submit a report in this connection within three days.