Aug 13, 2008 News
“The vision is that we will provide blood to our sisters and brothers every time they need whole blood or blood products and that we will provide blood or its products where ever they need it in this system of 100 percent voluntary donation.
I am convinced that it is not an impossible target. I am convinced that we can reach the goal of 100 percent voluntary blood donation by 2010 in Guyana.”
This was the charge delivered by Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy to stakeholders, of the National Blood Transfusion Service as their Mid Term Review got underway yesterday morning at Cara Lodge, Quamina Street.
According to the Minister, “We have proven that we can modify the behaviour pattern of our population when it comes to donating blood.”
The review is being held against the backdrop of the national blood strategy and the PEPFAR Project: Strengthening Blood Transfusion Service in Guyana, particularly, its goals, implementation and results.
The review is being conducted by a team including Dr. Neelam Dhingra – WHO Coordinator, Blood Transfusion Safety; Dr. Christie Reid – Epidemiologist CDC; and Dr. Jose Cruz – Regional Advisor, Blood Safety, PAHO/WHO.
Minister Ramsammy urged the stakeholders that “The Blood Transfusion service must be constant in our review of what makes blood safe…for the group that is responsible for safe blood in our country; it must be an everyday review. We have the capacity to provide the highest quality service and that we must do.”
However, he noted that this vision will not be attained at the cost of safety and quality. “Hence every donation must be subjected to the most rigid screening methodologies,” he said.
At present the NBTS screens blood for Hepatitis B & C, HIV, malaria, syphilis and HTLV 1&2. (HTLV or Human T-lymphotropic virus is a human, single-stranded RNA retrovirus that causes T-cell leukemia and T-cell lymphoma in adults)
He pointed out that in spite of difficult times the local service has made significant headway, notable among them being the achievement of about 70 percent voluntary blood donation. This, he said, has replaced a significant portion of family replacement donors, but not sufficient.
Hence, he used the opportunity to urge the National Blood Transfusion Service to work even harder to achieve the ultimate goal.
The Minister also expressed gratitude to all the collaborators, donors, technical and financial partners and staff who have contributed to the success of the local blood transfusion programme.
Meanwhile, Country Representative for PAHO/WHO, Dr. Kathleen Israel also noted the challenges and successes of the local programme, noting that it is because of these that the review is being held.
“I think it is always a good idea to pause and take stock of any initiative or project in a sufficiently objective manner that will not only allow the responsible parties to be encouraged by any achievements but more importantly, to see whether the project is still on tract to achieve the objectives identified in the beginning.
Further, it will provide an opportunity to analyze factors which may have served to constrain a more positive outcome and to discuss with partners what could be done to transform such constraints into opportunities for future direction and action,” she said.
She noted that the challenges to achieving 100 percent voluntary blood donation will continue, but, “we are convinced that Guyanese in general are seized of the life-saving value of access to safe blood when required.
Further, we believe that most Guyanese, if sufficiently sensitized and given the opportunity, will want to be a part of something as noble as contributing to saving lives through the gift of blood.
Consequently, we believe that any challenges that may exist could be overcome, especially with the support of all the stakeholders present here today as well as those entities which are as yet untapped.”
The review concludes tomorrow and will feature presentations by the NBTS, the visiting team, the Minister of Health and representatives from the private sector, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PAHO/WHO, regional hospitals and the Georgetown Public Hospital.
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