In Pakistan there is no system for licensing of blood banks, nor is there any specific legislation covering safety and quality of blood transfusion. With around 3,000 public and private blood banks catering for a population of around 170.6 million already suffering under a poor health system and prone to recurrent terrorist attacks, this is a cause of concern.
Joint director of the Blood Donor Centre and Pakistan Red Crescent Society, Dr Asma Cheema, stated this while talking to this reporter on Monday on the eve of World Blood Donor Day being celebrated across the country on June 14.
The day is celebrated across the globe to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank voluntary unpaid blood donors for their “life-saving gifts of blood”. This year’s theme for the day is “More blood. More life”.
Dr Cheema said there are around 450 public blood banks and over 2,500 private blood banks operating in the country. Without a licensing system in place, she said “anyone can easily open a blood bank to cash in on the scarce resource”.
Consultant Pathologist at Shifa International Hospital, Dr Ayeasha Jonaid said a few years back Islamabad Blood Transfusion Authority (IBTA) monitored 14 blood banks in the capital, out of which a few were not following standards or taking proper safety and screening measures to ensure provision of safe infection-free blood.
Dr Jonaid and Dr Cheema expressed concern over lack of education among health professionals regarding blood transfusion and stressed for the need to educate the public about the importance of voluntarily blood donations and safety of blood and blood products.
“There are many health professionals who are
unaware of blood components and transfuse the whole blood to patients which could put negative impacts on the patient’s health,” said Dr Cheema. She said the government should give importance to this sensitive issue and include it as a subject in the curriculum of all educational institutes.
She said that people rarely volunteer blood donations and 90 per cent of the blood is collected from replacement donors. “In Pakistan about 1.8 million units of blood is donated every year, which is insufficient when compared with the increasing population, organ transplant cases and terrorist attacks in the country,” said Dr Cheema.
Talking to the Express Tribune, an attendant of a blood cancer patient admitted in Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), Mohammad Ashraf, said that as platelets are not available at the hospital, it is difficult to arrange it from different private hospitals and blood banks.
Sources in Pims said that majority of patients admitted in the hospital are charged around Rs900 to 1,200 for blood bags or platelets, which they are supposed to be given free of charge. They claimed that private blood banks in the city lack equipment and qualified staff and are providing blood and its components to people on high rates.
Responding to a question regarding shortage of platelets in hospitals across the city, Dr Cheema of Blood Donor Centre said it is because majority of the hospitals and blood banks lack machines and equipments to separate blood components.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ