ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Unscientific Exclusion


The National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare governs the Indian blood donation policy. The NBTC is the apex body responsible for formulating policies about collecting, storing, and distributing blood and blood products in India. The latest policy governing blood transfusion is the “Guideline on Blood Donor Selection and Blood Donor Referral, 2017,” which also determines the population group eligible for donating blood, as prescribed by the NBTC.

A member of the transgender community has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging clauses 12 and 51 of the prescribed guidelines. The said clauses expressly prohibit transgender persons, gay men, and female sex workers from donating blood by classifying them as
a “high-risk” category for having HIV/AIDS. In response, in its affidavit, the union health ministry had submitted a plethora of scientific evidence to justify the need for a blanket exclusion. The ministry proposes that the blood donation system being such an intrinsic part of the Indian healthcare ecosystem, the move was necessary to ensure people’s faith in the integrity of the same. However, disqualifying an integral part of the Indian population from donating blood in the first place does not seem to be a step in the right direction towards achieving the goal of maintaining a safe public health system.

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