The Fourth Meeting of National Steering Committee (NSC) on Safe Blood Transfusion Project to guide and facilitate reforms in the Blood Transfusion Services of Pakistan was held at National Blood Transfusion Programme (NBTP) office, Islamabad. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Hasan Abbas Zaheer, National Programme Manager, NBTP, Ministry of Health, Islamabad.
The provincial BT managers who attended the meeting included Prof. Mehfooz-ur-Rehman (Punjab), Prof. Fazle Raziq (KPK), Dr. Zahid Ansari (Sindh), Dr. Sher Zaman (Balochistan), and Dr. Sartaj Khan (FATA). NGO sector was represented by Husaini Blood Bank, Karachi (Asad Ali), PRCS, Islamabad (Dr. Asma Cheema) and Fatimid Foundation, Karachi (Dr. Waleed Bin Azhar). The German Financial and technical Cooperation teams also attended the meeting.
Dr. Zaheer sharing his views on the occasion informed that the national programme will retain its position but it will come under a separate administrative unit of the federal government. Blood programme is unique in a sense that it is already de-centralized with six independent PC-1s. He informed that they are planning for the 2nd phase funding with KfW but all this depends on the activation of the PC-1s. He urged the Provincial Managers to activate their provincial PC-1s.
He further said that a document entitled “Programmatic Analysis” has been prepared by the GFA/GIZ team to analyze the existing practices in the blood transfusion sector. He asked the members to identify more areas and suggest new glossary of terms on which the GFA/GIZ team can work and elaborate further.
He told the participants to hold ground breaking ceremonies in the provinces. This would make the programme visible and sensitize the health departments at the provincial level. Provincial Steering Committees must be notified and made active as they are important bodies to guide, motivate and steer the implementation of Blood Transfusion reforms at the provincial level. He emphasized to stimulate the task forces already established in June 2010 to implement the national work plan. He asked to communicate electronically to progress in terms of the tasks assigned. In addition to the national task forces, provincial task forces should be notified and activated.
Dr. Zaheer urged the members to collect and publish the data they have on various aspects of blood transfusion including the prevalence of TTIs, epidemics like dengue, etc. To make the programme visible, abstracts should be ready to be presented in national and international medical conferences. The constitution of the blood transfusion society has been written (based on ISBT template) and will soon be registered.
NPM also briefed about the funding from the WHO which is a three years programme and for the current year four areas have been identified for support i.e. Situation analysis focusing on TTIs, Developing National Algorithm on TTIs, Capacity Building on TTI Screening and Capacity Building on Quality Management.
Prof. Mehfooz-ur-Rehman, Director IBTS/Programme Manager BT, Punjab requested for the logistic support from the NBTP to set up a programme office at the IBTS to be identified as a separate entity in the province. He also requested to include BT Managers for participation in the ISBT meetings regularly. The members of National Steering Committee stressed to develop a chain of blood banks for the FATA region which is affected badly due to terrorist attacks.
NPM, NBTP also told about his visit to Dubai in the mid of March to attend two WHO meetings where detailed meetings were held with delegates from ISBT, WHO Blood Safety Programme and Sharjah Blood Transfusion & Research Centre. All of them showed keen interest to help Pakistan for capacity building and implementation of BT project.
Zahid Mahmood, National Coordinator, EPOS/KfW informed the NSC that they have conducted a preliminary survey of the hospital blood banks but budget information is still missing. NPM told that a detailed survey of the HBBs will be conducted that will require the support of the provincial counterparts.
Earlier, the members of NSC signed the blood donor policy which has been elaborated by the GFA/GIZ technical cooperation team. The donor policy document was drafted on the recommendations of the first VNRBD workshop held at Islamabad in December last year. It was attended by large number of national and international stakeholders.