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Why Public & Private Collaboration Is Critical To Improve Organ Donation Landscape

1/20/23 12:30 PM

India is silently suffering a public health crisis. Our country has among the lowest organ donation rates in the world. Data by National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization suggests that an average of 500,000 people die every year, waiting for a life-saving organ. These stark statistics call for a massive country-wide movement to demystify the concept of organ donation and urge more people to pledge their organs for donation.

Government-led campaigns, supported by wide-spread private participation like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Make In India, etc. have shown notable results. A similar movement can enable a necessary perception shift, create a significant wave of acceptance for organ donation and potentially improve the availability of organ donors in the country.

Some simple changes can help public and private partnership create a significant impact on India’s organ donation landscape:

Infrastructural improvement
In India, several hospitals and NGOs are working towards creating a centralised system to keep organs alive for a longer duration and there is an emphasis on green corridors and airlifting given by private as well as government hospitals.

However, in smaller or non-metro cities, the conditions are worst. There is a dire need for intensive care units, doctors, surgeons, equipment, storage units, and advanced technologies including trainers and councillors for doctors and donor families, in government and private hospitals.

To build a sustainable and affordable ecosystem for Organ transplants in such areas government & private players need to work hand in hand to effectively carry the cost burden, offer the requisite training to the medical staff, and create a collaborative process between government as well as private hospitals to make it an affordable and inclusive process for the patients.

Need for seamless logistics
Organs cannot be stored for a longer duration and therefore the transplant ecosystem needs to be swift in terms of logistics. It is a fairly complex process, from dealing with medical aspects like matching organs to the patient, facilitating permissions for harvesting/transfer of organs, intense paperwork, family approvals, and ensuring complete compliance with all regulations.

Simply put, from identification and retrieval to transport and transplant, organ donation is a long and arduous process. It requires efficient coordination between various stakeholders including hospitals, authorities, family, and the legal system. There is a need for a central repository and a multifunction process to streamline this entire process and make sure that all logistical help is provided to meet the required timeline to save a life.

India is a young country, with a steadily increasing population. It potentially has enough organ donors to meet the demand of organs in the country for fairly long time. Several factors prevent people from proactively take the pledge of donating their organs. Cultural and religious beliefs, and lack of awareness regarding the overall process continue to hamper the organ donation ecosystem.

There is no denying that India’s organ donation landscape has come a long way from its first organ transplant in early 1970s. However, significant changes are required to further strengthen the ecosystem. These changes can be conducted in a seamless manner with the collaboration of private and public enterprise. Not only will it create faster acceptance for organ donation, but also build in a wide-spread preparedness in the ecosystem.

Sumit Rai, MD & CEO at Edelweiss Life Insurance

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