Haiti in dire need of “safe blood”

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PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Apr 6, CMC – Health authorities are urging technical and financial partners to secure funding to support the activities of the National Blood Safety Programme (PNST) amid concerns for the need to increase the production of safe blood in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

“Haiti has an urgent need to increase its production of safe blood, with an estimated annual demand of 60,000 to 80,000 blood bags, compared to the current production of about 20,000 bags,” said the PNST director, Dr. Ernst Noel.

Last weekend national, regional and international health officials participated in a sectoral thematic table to highlight the challenges and constraints of the PNST making an urgent appeal to technical and financial partners for assistance.

The meeting heard that the availability and safety of blood products is a cross-cutting issue in the various health care activities and has a direct impact on the health of Haitians, particularly in the area of maternal mortality, trauma, surgery and diseases such as malaria or other causes of anaemia.

“One of the goals of PAHO/WHO (Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation) in all countries is to improve the coverage, quality, safety, management, appropriate use and timely access to blood and blood products,” said PAHO’s representative in Haiti, Dr. Maureen Birmingham.

PAHO said that the meeting, which was also attended by representatives from the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP),allowed PNST executives to highlight several major challenges facing the programme, including insufficient funding for the operation of its blood transfusion stations, a shortage of human resources, repeated stock-outs of consumables and inputs, non-operational peripheral blood depots, as well as transportation difficulties.

The thematic table thus emphasised the need to decentralise activities, particularly testing, to guarantee rapid access to blood and to have a functional hemovigilance system. The strengthening of existing blood transfusion structures as well as the establishment of sustainable financing and the recruitment of qualified human resources were also identified as key elements.

Participants called for increased support from national and international partners, which would have a direct and significant impact on saving lives, preventing infections and improving health in Haiti. They also commended the efforts of the MSPP and PNST for their leadership and unwavering commitment to this critical program for the health of Haitians.

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