New Delhi, Jul 10 (PTI) To strengthen the blood transfusion services in West Bengal and the surrounding areas, the Union health ministry today joined hands with the state government for setting up a centre for transfusion medicine at Kolkata.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry and the state government, under which Rs 200 crore would allocated by the Centre for equipment, manpower and running costs while state will provide land free of cost, an official statement said.

Additional Secretary (Health), R K Vats and Principal Secretary Health in West Bengal government, Anil Verma signed the MoU on behalf of their respective ministries.

The MoU is a part of the Metro Blood Bank project of the health ministry under which centres of excellence in transfusion medicine in the four metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata would be set up.

These centres are high volume blood collection centres where newest technology in transfusion medicine for component separation, processing of blood and quality systems will be used.

The National Blood Transfusion Council, under the National AIDS Control Organisation, will be the implementing authority of the Ministry for this project.

An MoU for setting up the Metro Blood Bank in Chennai has already been signed on June 14, last year.

India collects about 11 million blood units every year.

Nearly 71 per cent of these blood donations are collected through voluntary non-remunerated donors, the statement said.

A recently concluded assessment of licensed blood banks of India revealed that the average blood donation rate in India is 0.8, which is lower than many high income countries leading to a shortfall in quantum and access to safe blood in select hard-to-reach areas of the country.

Rational use of blood also needs to be ensured to enhance utilisation, as one unit of blood can benefit more than one beneficiary through separation into red cells, plasma, platelets, the statement added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.