Bhubaneswar. Around 25,000 patients in Odisha with chronic blood disorder will get Rs.500 per head per month from the state government towards transportation cost for blood transfusion. The new health related scheme announced by chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday at an event promoting voluntary blood donation will cost the state government about Rs.15 in a year.

The patients including those suffering from thalassemia, haemophilia and sickle cell anaemia annually receive around 60,000 units of blood free of cost from government run blood bank. Patnaik also said the government would expand the nucleic acid testing-polymerase chain reaction (NTR-PTR) blood screening procedure, a technology that detects infection in an early stage, to all major blood banks in the state.

The NTR-PTR technology is currently operational in six blood banks in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack (two each), Berhampur and Burla. It will be set up in seven more places including Balangir, Balasore, Bargarh, Baripada, Keonjhar, Koraput and Rourkela. The chief minister said that blood transfusion is linked with transfusion related infections and appropriate clinical use of blood needed to be improved for proper clinical tests.

Odisha has 14 blood separation units for preparing blood components such as platelets, plasma and RBC. Seven more are expected to be opened soon. A day earlier Patnaik had launched a health programme meant to provide accessible and affordable eye care to people of all age groups. The state government is expected to spent Rs.600 crore in the next five years for the Universal Eye Health Programme to prevent avoidable vision related issues.He said all cataract cases in the state would be operated and given appropriate glasses free of cost under the scheme, launched on the occasion of World Sight Day.

As diabetic retinopathy has become a cause of blindness in increasing number of people, screen programme would be taken up on a mass scale for their early detection and free treatment at all district hospitals, he said.