Islamabad - The 3rd National Blood Policy launched Thursday recommended a nationally controlled system of safe blood supply and transfusion to ensure unified standards in the country that will eventually lead to the closure of privately run blood banks. The dissemination of the National Blood Policy and Strategic Framework (2014-20) was held in Islamabad.

Saira Afzal Tarrar, Minister of State, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation & Coordination, was the chief guest on the occasion. The seminar was attended by senior officials from the Health Ministry, senior representatives of the German embassy, GiZ, KfW, federal and provincial blood programmes, provincial health departments and technical experts from public and private sector institutions.

Prof. Hasan Abbas Zaheer, National Coordinator of Safe Blood Transfusion Programme (SBTP), introduced the National Policy and Strategic Framework and the systematic consultative approach followed for the process. The framework provides orientation for implementing blood safety system reforms to the national and provincial blood transfusion programmes.

The new policy suggests replacing the current system with nationally coordinated service system like other developed countries. “According to World Health Organisation (WHO) and international practices, one national body runs the system of blood regulation and dissemination.  But here in every nook and corner private blood banks have been opened. Many have been maintaining standards but not all risking the lives instead of saving. This system will phase out eventually,” informed Prof Zaheer.

“Only national and provincial safe blood programmes will be responsible for the supply, transfusion and regulation of blood,” he added, saying  “the system is already fulfilling 15 to 20 per cent requirements of the country that would further be expanded phase-wise with the help of donors.”    

It is the 3rd national policy that has been endorsed by all the provinces and territories despite devolution of health. The first and second policies were launched in 2002 and 2007 respectively.   

Speaking on the occasion, the health minister said a practical model of effective and efficient regulation of blood transfusion has been developed in Islamabad which is customised according to the national needs and requirements and can easily be emulated in the provinces.

“The Safe Blood Transfusion Programme can truly be termed a success story as despite some difficult challenges as a result of the 18th Amendment, the programme implementation was not allowed to suffer and a solid foundation of a sustainable blood transfusion system has been laid in the country,” she added.

“The prime minister has recently granted special exemption on all kind of taxes and charges for this project. And the continued commitment of the government to this vital public health project will again be reiterated soon with the signing of the second phase Agreement of the project with the German partners,” she added. “The formulation of the National Blood Policy is the first exercise in the post devolution era where all provincial partners are on board and a unified policy has been drafted,” said Tarar commending efforts and support from German technical and financial teams that has been pivotal for this process.

The representatives from the GIZ and KfW also spoke on the occasion and reiterated the commitment of the German government for this immensely important public health project. They also announced the conformation of technical and financial support to the second phase of the project.