A regional blood centre that will act as a central point for blood transfusion services in Karachi has been established at the Qatar Hospital in Orangi Town.
It was inaugurated on Wednesday by Sindh Minister for Health and Population Welfare Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho and German Consul General Eugen Wollfarth.
Karachi’s regional blood centre (RBC) is part of 15 centres established under the country’s Safe Blood Transfusion Programme with support from the government of Germany.
“The regional blood centres will work under a centralised system, which is cost-effective as the machines and consumables used for screening of blood would be utilised efficiently at the centralised RBC,” Dr Durenaz Jamal, director of the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority, told SAMAA Digital.
Donated blood will be stored at hospital-based blood banks, which are linked to the RBC, and only samples will be sent to the RBC for screening, she added. Charges for blood products vary from group to group of blood and type of component like packed cell, platelets and plasma.
“But the SBTA is working on making these prices reasonable and universal throughout the private blood banks of Sindh,” Dr Jamal said. These products are available free of cost at public hospitals.
A mechanism that links the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority with the Sindh AIDS Control Programme and Sindh Healthcare Commission, however, is still lacking, she confirmed.
Qatar Hospital’s RBC is the fourth of its kind in Sindh built in partnership with the German government. The German Development Bank (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau) earlier granted the Sindh government Rs710 million to build blood centres in Sukkur, Nawabshah and Jamshoro and equip 24 hospital-based blood banks in Karachi.
The construction and upgrade of these blood centres is in line with the country’s Safe Blood Transfusion Programme. The project is divided into two phases. In phase one, 10 RBCs were established in Bahawalpur, Multan, Gilgit, Muzaffarabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi, Jamshoro, Nawabshah and Sukkur between 2010 and 2016.
The Safe Blood Transfusion Programme aims to make blood transfusions easier in a country where there isn’t a culture of voluntarily donating blood. In Sindh alone, the percentage of voluntary blood donation stands between four and 10%.
The burden of blood disorders such as thalassemia throughout the country has already crossed 100,000 with 6,000 new cases per year, which require massive quantities of blood donations.
The Sindh health minister, speaking at the inaugural event, urged young people to come forward and donate blood.
She added that the management of regional blood centres in Karachi and Nawabshah has been outsourced to the Fatimid Foundation under the public-private partnership model. The centres in Jamshoro and Sukkur have been made fully operational through the Indus Health Network and Sukkur Blood Bank and Drugs Society respectively.