Profitable blood transfusion business becomes deadly - Pakistan Today

Profitable blood transfusion business becomes deadly

After the devolution of Health Ministry, the Federal Blood Transfusion Authority (FBTA) working for blood safety in Islamabad is virtually ineffective while the National Blood Transfusion Programme (NBTP) has no idea how many unregistered blood banks are operating in the federal capital, putting the citizens’ lives in danger. The FBTA is working under the NBTP, but unfortunately, unregistered and illegal blood banks have got a free hand in absence of the authority. It was supposed to monitor and regulate the unregistered and registered blood banks whereas the NBTP, initiated to ensure the blood safety in Pakistan, is clueless even about how many illegal or unregistered blood banks are making money in Islamabad.
When contacted, NBTP Manager Dr Hassan Abbas told Pakistan Today that there were 15 to 17 registered blood banks in Islamabad but he had no exact idea about the illegal blood ones, as the FBTA, which maintained data, was not working after the devolution of the Ministry of Health. He said the authority would soon be operationalised but it was a lengthy and time consuming procedure. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 2,385 unregistered blood banks are operating in Pakistan without any check on the part of the authorities concerned, whereas only 130 ones are registered and 40 percent blood transfusion is being done without screening, thus spreading deadly diseases like HIV and hepatitis B and C.
A senior WHO official concerned with HIV and AIDS programme told Pakistan Today, while requesting not to be named, said that the blood transfusion system in Pakistan was fragmented and anyone could open a blood bank without maintaining any standards as there was no federal programme for setting national standards after devolution. “Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, does not have any legal system or functional authority to monitor and keep check on the unregistered blood banks; however, the WHO set up provincial blood transfusion authorities three years ago through which we are operating in the provinces.” He said provinces had their own policies, laws and acts but, regrettably, they were not being implemented. “40 percent blood transfusion is done without screening thus endangering lives of thousands of people, who need blood for life saving, but the government showing no interest towards this practice,” he noted.
“There is practically no system to monitor and run blood banks in the country although government has initiated regulatory laws but still are not being implemented in its letter and spirit. On the other hand there is a lack of national standards and protocols that are needed to run blood transfusion services in efficient and quality assured manner,” he lamented. According to a survey conducted by the WHO, there are 2,515 blood banks in Pakistan of which 170 are in public sector, 15 run by NGOs and 2330 by for profit commercial organisation.

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