Increased access to (information about ) blood !!!!

In a novel initiative in Gujarat, SMS service for knowing about availability of blood in any part of the state was inaugurated by the Health Minister Mr.Jaynarayanbhai Vyas in a function at Ahmedabad on 17th July,2010.

Air Marshal P.S.Bhangu AVSM VM (Air Officer- Commanding- in- Chief SWAC) was the Guest of Honour in the inaugural function held at Ellisbridge Gymkhana, Ahmedabad on 17th evening which saw live demonstration of the provision of information as per the assumed requirements of blood (in terms of blood group and number of units required)in home town/place of work of the guests of the function.

A couple of years back, Gujarat State Council for Blood Transfusion(GSCBT) had partnered with the NGO-Missameal Trust led by its Managing Trustee Air Marshal (Retd.) Mr.P.K.Desai PVSM AVSM VSM in the development and facilitation of the website to, inter alia, facilitate access to information about availability of blood.

As very few people have computers/internet connectivity and many are not internet savvy, it was decided to develop a more user friendly way for ensuring access to information about blood to larger sections of the society.

In Gujarat mobile/cell phones are used extensively with creative use of ‘missed calls’ and other effective use in a creative manner by the vegetable vendors , domestic assistance, tea shop owners which supply tea in a fixed number on receiving a missed call ,to the office goers. Use of mobiles is very common in our state and most of the information for the wonderful 108 ambulance service is requested on mobiles only (Incidentally there are more than 450 ambulances with very committed staff -with one ambulance for a population of 1.5 lakh people and maximum response time of 40 minutes to reach any place-generally it is 5 minutes in cities and about 10 minutes in the sub-district places).

People not comfortable with texting /SMS get the guidance on any blank/HELP/BLOOD message received and they are provided guidance and phone numbers for real time verbal interaction.

The SMS service is a query based 24x7 service to provide information (in a few seconds) about availability of blood of a particular group in any/nearby city/town of Gujarat.

The format of the query is <Blood Group>space< City>space< Quantity needed>.e.g. A+ PORBANDAR 2 for requirement of two units of blood of A+ group in Porbandar.

The query is to be sent to Cell number 8866100108(it is easy to remember the number going by mnemonic associations and Housie clues for ‘88’ ‘66’ ‘century’ and the number ‘108’)

Names of blood banks having stock of blood of the required group along with their phone numbers (from at least 3 blood banks in the city/adjacent cities) with the details of quantity available are transmitted back in response.

Any wrong /incomplete query gets the response of the guidance and details of the website.

If any stock figures are more than 4 days old, stock of that blood bank is not taken into account .All the blood banks are reporting regularly to the GSACS and GSCBT but the success of the initiative and extending the same to all lie in regular reporting and updating of information about availability of stock to the committed website/in response to telephonic queries made to the blood bank on a regular basis.

Let us develop and strengthen the same in other parts of the country also and optimally utilize the same as one of the pursuits for ensuring blood security which necessitates functional blood storage centres besides the blood banks with sufficient and safe blood.

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