Blood transfusion centres receive continental quality accreditation

14May 2022
Felister Peter
The Guardian
Blood transfusion centres receive continental quality accreditation

TANZANIA is now among countries which are recognised at international level for providing quality blood transfusion services and safety.

This follows recent accreditation of six blood transfusion centres by the Africa society for Blood Transfusion (AfSB) for quality and meeting operational requirements that meet international standards.

The accreditation comes as a result of attaining standards based on accepted international requirements adapted to the uniqueness of the African environment.

By 2023, Tanzania will have 70 accredited blood transfusion centres that meet international standard, according to the Government Chief Medical Officer, Saitole Laizer.

Speaking recently at an event to present accreditation certificates to six zonal blood centres under the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS), Dr Laizer said the approved centres makes a total of 50 blood transfusion centres and places Tanzania in the third position in Africa for having blood transfusion centres that meet international standards.

The AfSB accredited centres are those in northern zone (Arusha), Eastern (Dar es Salaam), Western (Tabora), southern highland, lake zone and the Zanzibar National Blood Transfusion Services.

Dr Laizer underscored the need for Tanzanians to voluntary donate blood as the demand is still high due to a number of reasons including accidents. He added that most expectant mothers require blood transfusion during delivery.

“We want our people to access quality and safe blood anywhere across the country. I am impressed that our Zanzibar centre has also been accredited,” he remarked.

He said women can voluntarily donate blood three times a year while men can do it four times annually. He said the government and partners have been working to maintain the blood transfusion standards to ensure those in need get safe and quality blood.

Dr Laizer added that with the accreditation, Tanzania is positioned to sell some blood products to other African countries. These products include fresh blood plasma and platelets.

“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,” he explained.

Dr Nzove Ulenga, Chief Operating Officer, Management and Development for Health (MDH) said that accreditation of the labs would result in enhanced trust among blood users, but it also puts Tanzania in a position of selling its blood products to other African 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.

Dr Katare Swahibu, Executive Manager, AfSBT said they have been implementing a number of projects to improve blood transfusion services in the country which include training of experts.

“The accreditation journey in Tanzania started with education. Accreditation is one of the most symbols of an organization’s commitment to provide high quality and safety health care services,” said Swahibu.

According to him accreditation has a number of benefits which includes quality and safety of care, documented processes, effective team work, reduced costs and enhanced organizational cultures.

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.

She said: “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 efforts are on-going to educate people on the importance of donating blood. She said most of the people especially in rural areas are still reluctant to donate blood.

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).