Pakistan: Islamabad Blood Centre Groundbreaking Ceremony

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Islamabad Regional Blood Centre (RBC) took place on May 3rd  in Islamabad with Dr. Tariq Fazal Choudhry, Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD), officiating the event. The Islamabad RBC, being built and equipped with €1.6 million of funding support from the German Government through the KFW-German Development Bank, is expected to provide safe blood and blood products to about 2 million people living in Islamabad and surrounding areas

The Islamabad RBC is one of 15 blood centres being developed or upgraded in Phase II of the Safe Blood Transfusion Project currently being implemented by EPOS. Additionally, up to 30 hospital blood banks will also be renovated and equipped through a €10 million German government grant. Previously, in Phase I of the project, a national network of 10 RBCs as well as renovation of  59 existing hospital-based blood banks was achieved through funding support of €15 million.

In addition to Minister Choudry, participants at the groundbreaking ceremony included Dr. Henning Plate, Head of Division Afghanistan/Pakistan, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation & Development (BMZ) and Mr Wolfgang Moellers, KfW Germany and Country Director. Also present were Dr. Jamal Yousaf, Additional Secretary CADD; Prof. Hasan Abbas Zaheer, Project Director, Safe Blood Transfusion Programme; Dr. Masuma Zaidi, Coordinator Health Sector, KfW and Zahid Mahmood, Team Leader EPOS. Other participants included representatives of licensed blood banks in Islamabad, stakeholders and media representatives.

Minister Choudry expressed gratitude to the German Government for its support and stated that the present government is fully committed to improving blood safety standards in the country and the development of a model Regional Blood Centre in Islamabad will help in achieving this goal. He appealed to the local population, particularly the youth, to donate blood on a regular basis to sustain the new Islamabad centre. Prof. Zaheer was recognized for his exemplary leadership and commitment in steering the blood project. To consolidate the achievements of the project, the Minister requested the German government to support another round of funding and develop 10 more RBCs in the country.

Dr. Plate congratulated Minister Choudry and Secretary Yousaf for their dedicated interest in the implementation of the blood project in their region and marked the importance of the government’s commitment to improve access to safe blood. He expressed the hope that the German government funded blood centres would herald a new era of blood safety for the people of Pakistan. He termed the Safe Blood Transfusion Project a ‘success story’ and appreciated the untiring efforts of the federal and provincial teams in making the project a success. Dr. Zaidi also spoke on Phase II infrastructure after the successful commissioning of the Phase I Regional Blood Centres in the provinces of Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab.

Dr. Yousaf expressed appreciation for German government support for the blood project in Islamabad and assured timely and smooth operationalisation of the centre upon completion. She also updated participants on efforts to promote voluntary blood donations for the new centre. The Islamabad RBC will provide safe blood and blood products to about 2 million people of Islamabad and surrounding areas.

Project Director Zaheer said the facility will serve as a model blood centre of the country and will be a procurement and distribution centre ensuring quality systems to regulate all activities including mobilization and retention of voluntary blood donors, maintenance of donor database, collection of blood donations and processing, screening, testing, component preparation and storage of the prepared components. A customized management information system (MIS) has been especially procured for the smooth functioning of the new system. He added that the blood components prepared in this centre will be provided to linked public sector hospital blood banks which will be upgraded. On completion, the existing Hospital Blood Banks will be functionally re-modeled and converted into patient oriented hospital transfusion services to perform the function of storage, distribution, compatibility testing and haemovigilance. Private and NGO sector hospitals will also be provisioned with blood components from the new centre.