ISLAMABAD - A seminar to celebrate the “World Blood Donor Day 2016” was held by the Safe Blood Transfusion Programme (SBTP) yesterday.

The theme for World Blood Donors Day falling on June 14 this year is “Blood connects us all”.  The seminar was chaired by MNA Maiza Hameed Gujjar. Prof. Hasan Abbas Zaheer, National Coordinator, SBTP co-chaired the seminar.

The seminar was held to thank the voluntary blood donors for their gift of life, create wider public awareness for the regular, voluntary blood donations and to motivate those who have not donated blood yet, particularly youth. The seminar also served to highlight the achievements of the SBTP in promoting blood safety and developing a new infrastructure in the country with the support of the German government through KfW and GIZ.  

Chief Guest MNA Maiza Hameed said blood safety project was the dire need of the country and the Blood Programme has done a remarkable job which needs to be acknowledged, appreciated and replicated in other development projects also.

The SBTP has recently appointed the renowned Pakistani film maker and double Oscar Award winner, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinnoy as the “Honorary National Ambassador for Blood Safety”.

 A video message from Chinnoy on the occasion of the World Blood Donor Day 2016 was presented during the seminar. 

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Zaheer, National Coordinator SBTP informed that as a result of the untiring efforts of the Programme management and the commitment of the stakeholders, a national platform of the sector has been created and the Blood Programme has become the `national voice of blood safety` at national and international level.

He added that the pace of the project has picked up in the last three years and the government is now going to start the second phase of the project from June 2016 with the continued support of KfW and GIZ (German partners).

In the first phase many regulatory and operational tools were developed and are being used in the blood centers now. Stakeholders were made aware about the concepts of Hemovigilance and Blood Safety. Joint activities were conducted through a coordinated approach including the celebrations of the World Blood Donor Day. Harmonized policies and strategies were developed under the National Blood Policy and Strategy Framework 2014-20. Throughout these past six years the infrastructure development work proceeded nationwide and   the target of development of 10 new Regional Blood Centers and up-gradation of 60 existing blood banks was successfully achieved despite numerous challenges.

These centers are now being operationalized as the most visible manifestation of a paradigm change.

Prof. Zaheer also outlined the national strategy for the promotion of voluntary blood donation in the country as articulated in the National Blood Policy. The strategy proposes conversion of suitable and healthy ‘Family Replacement Donors’ into ‘Regular Voluntary Donors’ during their interaction with the blood banks for their donation. The national strategy also proposes the strengthening of educational institution based Blood Donor Organizations which exist all over the country. These organizations managed by the committed and energetic youth contribute to the voluntary donor pool but due to lack of proper technical guidance and supervision their true potential remains to be unlocked.

Other speakers in the seminar included Dr. Masooma Zaidi, KFW Representative, Dr. Jamal Nasir President Green Task Force, Dr Ubaid Hasnain President Federalites Blood Donor Society, Col. Zafar, Regular Voluntary Blood Donor, Prof. Atifa Shoaib, Consultant Hematologist, Holy Family Hospital Rawalpindi, Dr Muhi-ud-Din, Director Health, PRCS and Abdul Hameed, President Alaqsa Welfare Organization. The speakers stressed the importance of voluntary blood donations and urged the people to donate blood regularly and not wait for emergencies. Patients should not be asked to arrange donors but this can only be possible if young people come forward and regularly donate blood. The Safe Blood Transfusion Programme is one of the rare success stories among donor funded projects and the German government contribution for this project is tremendous. The Pakistan government and the provincial governments must extend full support to this project so that the public gets safe blood for transfusion.