#IPledgeRED initiative from Roche Diagnostics and Apollo Hospitals puts the spotlight on safe blood for transfusion

Initiative highlights the need for Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) to screen for underlying infections and reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted diseases

National, October 2022 –Blood transfusion is a vital component of a healthcare delivery system but there is a huge mismatch between demand and supply. The requirement of blood in India is estimated to be 8.5 million to 10 million units/per year, whereas the available supply is only 7.4 million units/per year. To address this important issue, Roche Diagnostics and Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited have joined hands to create awareness of the need for safe blood donation and screening to ensure safe blood for transfusion with the #IPledgeRED campaign.

The “IPledgeRED” campaign will extend across colleges in 8+ cities to promote voluntary blood donation amongst students of 18 years and above. The “IPledgeRED” initiative will collaborate with colleges across Tamil Nadu,Telangana, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi for voluntary blood donation. The campaign encourages students to donate blood at nearby Apollo Hospital sites and also learn about the safe blood screening practices adopted to ensure safe blood that is free from any infections for recipients. The campaign is supported by the Thalassemia Patient Advocacy Group (TPAG) and Thalassemia India (TI).

Though very low, one of the risks of blood transfusion is that of blood-borne infections causing transfusion-transmitted diseases (TTIs). Conventional screening such as ELISA serology testing requires several days to a few weeks for identifying underlying infections in the donated blood. The “IPledgeRED” campaign will highlight the role of Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) which can screen infections that are as recent as 5 days, thereby reducing the risk of transfusion-transmitted diseases (TTIs).

NAT screening is considered the gold standard in blood safety screening and significantly reduces TTIs related to Hepatitis B & C and HIV among others. With NAT screening, transplant recipients, accident victims, cancer patients, and those undergoing major surgery can be assured of safe supplies of blood and plasma for transfusion.

Ms Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group said,“Apollo Hospitals has been a pioneer in practicing safe blood donation. We were among the first to adopt NAT testing and have significantly contributed to ensuring safe blood transfusion against transfusion-transmitted viral infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. The processes at our blood banks ensure that both donors and transfusion recipients can rest assured about the safety and quality of blood donation. The “IPledgeRED” campaign will make our youngsters aware of how the adoption of NAT can ensure that only the safest blood reaches recipients. With this campaign in association with Roche Diagnostics, we will also educate the medical fraternity at large to advocate for safe blood screening, thus ensuring safe transfusion practices.”

Speaking on the occasion, Narendra Varde, Managing Director, Roche Diagnostics India said, “We are happy to partner with Apollo Hospitals to jointly launch this campaign. At Roche, we feel that access to safe blood should be considered one of the most important pillars of modern-day healthcare. In India, mandatory screening tests that are in practice often cannot detect underlying infections, and hence there is an acute need for an additional layer of most sensitive tests such as nucleic acid testing. We are confident that with the combined power of the network of Apollo Hospitals and Roche Diagnostics’ leadership in the blood and plasma NAT screening market, we will be able to bring safety, reliability, and efficiency to donor screening on a national level.”

According to Dr Mohit Chowdhary, HoD, Blood Bank, Apollo Hospital Delhi, “Timely detection of blood infections is not only important for patients but is equally important for the donors. Patients requiring blood transfusion are mostly critical patients with compromised immunity and infected blood can unleash a new set of complications that further jeopardize the patient’s health. Hence, the use of NAT screening is a must for safe blood transfusion practices. NAT is a very sensitive technology, detects early-stage infectious agents such as HIV/HCV/HBV and occult HBV infections, thus helping maximize the availability of safe blood to patients.”

“India accounts for almost 10% of the total global incidence of Thalassemia patients who need regular blood transfusions. Most of them were impacted by the shortage of blood during the pandemic, hence campaigns like IPledgeRED are extremely important to raise awareness among the youth about the need for voluntary blood donation. Alongside, I would also urge everyone to educate themselves about blood safety screening so that TTIs like HIV, Hepatitis B&C can be avoided,” said Anubha Taneja-Mukherjee, member-secretary, TPAG.

About Apollo

Apollo revolutionized healthcare when Dr Prathap Reddy opened his first hospital in Chennai in 1983. Today Apollo is the world’s largest vertically integrated healthcare platform with over 10,000 beds across 71 hospitals, 5000 pharmacies and over 400 clinics and diagnostic centres as well as 150 telemedicine centres. It is the world’s leading cardiac centre with over 160,000 surgeries and the world’s largest private cancer care provider. Apollo continues to invest in research to bring cutting-edge technologies, equipment and treatment protocols to ensure our patients have the best available care in the world. Our 100,000+ employees are dedicated to bringing you the best care on earth and leaving the world better than we found it.

About Roche Diagnostics India

Roche is the world’s largest biotech company. Roche Diagnostics India Pvt. Ltd. established in the year 2002 has offices located in Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai with over 400 employees. Our broad range of innovative diagnostic tests and systems play a pivotal role in the groundbreaking area of integrated healthcare solutions and cover early detection, targeted screening, evaluation, and disease monitoring. Roche Diagnostics India works with the objective of “Doing now what patients need next”, thus preparing for the nation’s future healthcare needs.