Blood supply in great shape for CWC
- buffer stock increased

Kaieteur News
February 6, 2007

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The National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) is ready for any medical eventualities which may arise during the upcoming Cricket World Cup (CWC).

The department has already increased its buffer stock of blood from 90 to 130 units and targets further increasing this stock to 150 units before the commencement of the matches.

Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy told this newspaper yesterday that although these improvements in the blood supply will be initiated for the cricket matches, it is part of an overall five-year comprehensive strategy for improving blood safety.

“Whatever improvements are being put in place at the Blood Bank was already in train, but in some regards was hastened up in initiation because of the CWC. As such, these improvements will all be sustained over the long term. The Minister noted that since the challenge is usually accessing the not so popular blood types, special efforts will be made in this regard.

He further acknowledged the need for building the technical capacity at the unit to treat the increased blood supply.

This includes the capacity to collect, store and process the blood.

“We will be working on significantly enhancing our storage capacity, not only with regards to the quantity of blood that can be stored but ensuring is that it being stored at the correct temperature.

He added that plans are also apace to equip the NBTS with its own generator to ensure the safety of the blood during power outages.

One of the major challenges of the department continues to be the absence of voluntary donation. In Guyana , just about 20% of the blood supply is through voluntary donation.

Ramsammy posited that the goal is to have 100% voluntary donation even though Guyana is not unique in this situation.

He related that improvements are already being achieved towards this goal, especially from the corporate community.

According to the Minister, the attitude of Guyanese with respect to blood donation is changing.

He related that the voluntary list of donors has increased significantly over the last few months.

“People are no longer just giving to their relatives who are ill, they are coming forward and voluntarily donating to the pool, they are seeing donation as a positive thing,” the Minister said

The Minister expressed optimism that the goal of achieving 50% voluntary donation will be achieved.

In this regard, the Minister said it is therefore important for Guyana to develop a rational system for the use of blood, adding that it must be ensured that all use of blood is legitimate and systems are in place to avoid waste.

But he noted that the strategy must revolve around developing a technical capacity that can screen blood and ensure that all blood is safe for use by those who need it to preserve life.

The Minister said Guyana has done an excellent job in preventing HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis and other blood-borne diseases through blood transfusion.

He highlighted the need to continue to build on this strength and not only ensure the provision of safe blood but also provide confidence in the population.

The Minister also stressed the need to establish rigid surveillance systems in order to constantly review screening standards adding that new and emerging diseases would necessitate constant reviews of the screening menu.

Human resources, physical and technological infrastructure capacity are all necessary prerequisites to provide for adequate and timely supply and safe blood to the population.

The Minister also asserted that proper laws, regulations and policies need to be put in place to support the provision of safe blood to people.

He posited that the National Strategic Plan for Blood Safety 2007-2011 addresses all these issues.