Tanzania targets 70 accredited blood transfusion centres

Monday May 09 2022
Blood pic

The government pledges to provide enough and quality blood. PHOTO | GETTY IMAGES

By Hellen Nachilongo

Morogoro. Tanzania targets to have 70 accredited blood transfusion centres that meet international standard by 2023 in order to sell some of its blood products to other African countries.

Some of the blood products that can be made from liquid blood portion and could be sold to foreign countries include fresh blood plasma and platelets.

Government chief medical officer Saitole Laizer made the remarks yesterday when the Africa society for Blood Transfusion (AfSB) approved six zonal blood centres with international accreditation, thus improving blood transfusion safety.

The centres are those in the northern zone (Arusha), eastern (Dar es Salaam), western (Tabora), southern highland, lake zone and Zanzibar.

“The approval of six zonal blood centres adds to a total number of 50 blood transfusion centres and puts the country in the third position in Africa for having blood transfusion centres that meet international standards,” he said.

Mr Laizer stressed they are happy that Zanzibar has also not been left out, this means wherever wanannchi required to access quality and safe blood transfusion they can have it anywhere across the country.

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He said: “Blood donation is voluntary, thus anyone can donate but when blood is donated, it is processed to get other products and also ensure that the processed blood has no diseases before beneficiaries get blood transfusion.”

According to him, there are other products that can be found in blood, for example they can get platelets and fresh frozen plazma from the processed blood.

“That is why we are focusing on maintaining the standard in the country because not every patient requires blood transfusion.”

For example, when a patient has a problem of blood clotting, he/she would need platelets while others would need fresh frozen plasma to help form blood clots to slow or stop bleeding and help the wounds heal.

Fresh frozen blood plasma is a blood product made from the liquid portion of whole blood. It is used to treat conditions in which there are low blood clotting factors or low levels of other blood proteins.

The National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS) Programme Manager, Dr Magdalena Lyimo, said the current country’s blood demand is 550,000 bottles annually but they can only collect 330,000 bottles a year which is equivalent to 60 per cent.

“Blood donation is vital because it helps to rescue people’s lives including pregnant women therefore people should be encouraged to donate blood to meet annual demand,” she said.

Management and Development for Health (MDH) chief operating officer Dr Nzove Ulenga said: “Accreditation of these labs would result in enhanced trust among blood users, but it also puts Tanzania in a position of selling its blood products to other countries.”

Dr Ulenga added that MDH has been working closely with the government towards improvement of health services.

He said the organisation also supports government efforts in the fight against HIV/Aids and tuberculosis (TB), among others.

Blood transfusion services were established in the country in 2005 under the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS) with support from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR).