Red Cross strike hits thalassaemics hard
The employees of the Red Cross Blood Bank in Delhi that have gone on an indefinite strike since May 8, 2001 has affected the thalassaemia patients in Delhi severely. The strike was initiated by the Society staff in agitation against differences in wages between them and the government hospital employees since May 7.
The Red Cross Blood Bank in Delhi is one of the largest blood banks in India. Their staff has been on a partial strike since April 27 and this has created problems for thalassaemic children. These children require a blood transfusion every 3-4 weeks to maintain their haemoglobin level to approximately 9-11 mg/dl of blood. Because of non-availability of blood the level of haemoglobin in some children has come down to 5-6 mg/dl.
Thalassaemia is a blood disorder in which the red blood cells are abnormal and have a very short life span. Because of this the haemoglobin level of the blood keeps falling constantly. Thus blood has to be replaced regularly. If the haemoglobin level falls very low, there are more chances of complications.
The strike incidentally overlapped the International Thalassaemia Day on May 8. On this occasion, NGO's working in the area of the care of thalassaemic children urged the government to take relevant action and to open government outlets providing safe blood. Though some hospitals have come to their aid, the Red Cross meets almost 40% of their demands. There are at present 1,00,000 affected children in the country. In Delhi alone, there are about 1500 thalassaemic children who need blood urgently. NGO's have also requested the public to donate blood selflessly till the strike is on.
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