The title is in their blood

The title is in their blood

In the wake of the terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall, several initiatives arose to popularize blood donation. Thus, a group of parliamentarians led by Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council Andrei Turchak proposed equating donors with volunteers and extending “volunteer” benefits to them. And the National Association of Healthcare Managers asked the Russian Ministry of Health to create the honorary title “Hero Donor” for long-term donors. The organization believes that the state can encourage them, for example, by partially paying for health insurance or free trips to sanatoriums. The Ministry of Health, however, fears “the actual replacement of gratuitous donation with paid elements.”

Yesterday, First Vice-Speaker of the Federation Council Andrei Turchak, as well as the head of the Duma Committee on Youth Policy Artem Metelev, the Chairman of the Committee for the Development of Civil Society Olga Timofeeva and the Head of the Committee on Health Protection Badma Bashankaev (all from United Russia) announced a “donor” bill . They called donation a “strategically important topic” and proposed to equate it with volunteering. “Tragic situations, like the terrorist attack in Crocus, show that sometimes blood is needed in large volumes in a specific place,” said deputy Metelev. “In this case, it is necessary to have regular donors.”

The explanatory note states that 1.5 million Russians receive blood transfusions annually. According to the Federal Medical and Biological Agency, 1.4 million people became blood donors last year. At the same time, 99% of donors donated blood free of charge, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova emphasized at the All-Russian Blood Service Forum in October 2023. “In essence, they are already volunteers. Therefore, measures to support volunteers, in our opinion, can be extended to donors,” said Mr. Metelev. Among possible support measures, he mentioned additional points for the Unified State Exam upon admission, free travel on public transport and access to cultural institutions. The bill is expected to be submitted to the State Duma on National Blood Donor Day on April 20.

At the same time, the Chairman of the National Association of Healthcare Managers, Muslim Muslimov, approached the Minister of Health, Mikhail Murashko, with the initiative to create the honorary title “Donor-Hero of Russia.” Let us remind you that the law now provides for the title “Honorary Donor of Russia” - for citizens who have donated blood 40 times or blood plasma 60 times free of charge. At the federal level, honorary donors are entitled to various benefits and incentives: medical care under compulsory medical insurance without waiting in line, priority purchase at the place of work or study of preferential vouchers for sanatorium and resort treatment, provision of annual paid leave at a convenient time of the year, as well as an annual cash payment (in 2024 year - 17,324 rubles). In a number of constituent entities of the Russian Federation, honorary donors are provided with free travel on public transport, a 50 percent discount on medicines, and compensation for housing and communal services.

According to Muslim Muslimov, these benefits are “no doubt important,” but still “insufficient and incomparable with the contribution that those who want to donate blood make to saving human lives.” Therefore, the association proposes to reward honorary donors who continue to donate blood or its components at least twice a year. After five years of active donation, they can be awarded the title “Hero Donor” - and provided with new benefits. According to the association, the state could pay them for a voluntary health insurance program (but not more than 50 thousand rubles per year); annually provide a free trip to a sanatorium (at the choice of government authorities); provide free travel on all types of public transport, including intercity transport, as well as the metro and minibuses. “The adoption of these measures will have a positive impact on the development of the institution of blood donation in Russia - and will increase the level of public recognition of citizens who, free of charge, devote themselves to caring for and saving the lives of others,” concluded Mr. Muslimov.

Kommersant asked the Russian Ministry of Health to comment on the association’s proposal. As it turned out, the department is afraid of “the actual replacement of gratuitous donation with paid elements” and does not want measures of social support for donors to turn into “a way to generate regular income.” This would be contrary to the concept of the law on blood donation, the Ministry of Health explained, because it is based on the need to encourage and support free blood donation: “This approach is determined by international experience in the field of blood donation and fully corresponds to the instructions of the World Health Organization that the basis of the national The donation system should be based on the principle of voluntary, unpaid donation.”

The department recalled that honorary donors of Russia and the USSR who continue to donate blood or its components can be awarded various state awards - for example, the insignia “For good deeds”, as well as the Order of Friendship, the Order of the Holy Great Martyr Catherine, the Order of Pirogov and the medal of Luke of Crimea. “Every year in Russia more than 20 thousand donors are awarded for the contribution that those who want to donate blood make to saving human lives,” the Russian Ministry of Health emphasized.

The legislation actually enshrines the priority of developing gratuitous donation, confirms co-chairman of the All-Russian Union of Patients Yuri Zhulev, therefore it would be more relevant to expand social support measures. “It would be advisable for the expert community and the state to develop a comprehensive system that would encourage the donor at every stage,” he suggested.

The Russian Red Cross (RRC) believes that additional support measures “can bear fruit”: “After all, this is not only an encouragement for those who have already become part of the donor community, but also an incentive for other people to become donors.” On the other hand, the RKK agrees with the importance of developing and popularizing gratuitous donation: “We are confident that those who have already become honorary donors remain so even after receiving the title.”

Natalya Kostarnova, Alexander Chernykh

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