NBTP brings media on board to promote voluntary blood donation -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

NBTP brings media on board to promote voluntary blood donation

Islamabad: The National Blood Transfusion Programme (NBTP) partnered with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to hold an orientation session aimed at building the capacity of the media as a partner in promoting voluntary blood donation here on Tuesday.

The session was addressed by the manager of NBTP Dr. Hasan Abbas Zaheer, director of the Blood Centre at PRCS Dr. Asma Cheema, and WHO Programme Officer Dr. Quaid Saeed.

With the initiative to transform the currently fragmented blood transfusion services well on its way to being implemented, the PRCS has announced to assist the programme by promoting voluntary blood donations. The WHO, which is working worldwide with national and provincial blood transfusion programmes, providing technical support to build systems that would ensure availability of quality assured blood for those in need, will continue to play its traditional role in support of the NBTP. The media, which is seen as one of the most critical partners, was also brought on board for dissemination of vital information related to the subject.

Dr. Hassan shared that NBTP has adopted a participatory approach to reach a wider audience. He informed that last Sunday, he went to Karachi where the Association of Health Journalists had convened a seminar at Hussaini Blood Bank, where another capacity-building session was convened for 40 health journalists. “Capacity building of journalists is a core component of the programme,” he shared. Dr. Hassan also informed that the Ministry of Health would be organising blood camps in Islamabad and other major cities as a collective campaign marking World Blood Donor Day and the birthday of slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto on June 21.

Referring to the role of WHO, it was learnt that the organisation has recently launched a new three-year programme in support of NBTP. The focus of this program would be ensuring 100 per cent and quality assured screening of all blood that is collected and transfused in the country. The programme was launched this year with training of health care providers on quality management of blood transfusion system, development of national protocols and standards for testing blood against five infections and provision of blood screening test kits for all blood banks in the country. According to the Global Database of Blood Safety 2008, a survey carried out by WHO worldwide, there are 2,515 blood banks in Pakistan, of which 170 are in public sector, 15 are run by NGOs and 2,330 by for-profit commercial organisations. Unfortunately, only 130 such private blood banks are registered with the authorities.

There is practically no system to monitor and run blood banks in the country although government has initiated regulatory laws authorities still they are not being implemented in its letter and spirit. There is lack of national standards and protocols that are needed to run blood transfusion services in efficient and quality assured manner.

There is no national voluntary blood donation programme for recruitment and retention of donors. In 2008, 45 per cent of the blood banks reported an annual transfusion of 9,60,000 blood bags, of which only 1,20,000 were donated by voluntary unpaid donors while the rest 98 per cent were family or replacement donors donating blood for their sick family members or friends. This practice of family or replacement donors is discouraged by WHO since donors from family members of patients have higher rate of blood-borne diseases compared to voluntary unpaid donors.

All public sector blood banks report screening of blood bags for three diseases namely HIV, Hepatitis B and C while WHO recommends that blood should be screened for at least 05 diseases that should also include screening for malaria and syphilis.
Source: The News