Blood transfusion and safety laws | By Adv Naeem Qaisrani

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Blood transfusion and safety laws

JUNE 14 is celebrated as world blood donor day.World Health Organization (WHO) data revealed globally 118.5 million blood donations collected annually, whereas in Pakistan the estimated number is around 3 million blood donations collected from proximity to 600-700 blood collection centres.

Having chronic financial and economic crises, our health budget remains compromised and is considered one amongst the lowest and poorest budgets for health.

After the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, health is now a provincial subject. The health system is already facing numerous challenges, but our blood transfusion safety system (BTS) is also corroborating the story of our dynamics of overall development.

After country’s independence, most of the population remains dependent on self-arrangement or non-government organizations for blood donations and collection.

Most of the NGOs were unlicensed and merely acquainted with the standards to meet safety measures because these were all working on humanitarian principles.

The large and medium-sized hospitals have established their blood banks and cater to their needs, but these blood banks are lacking modern facilities for collection, testing, distribution, storage and transfusion.

Although Pakistan was signatory to the UN Regulations No.WHA 28.72 (1975) and WHA 58.13(2005) urging member states to develop nationally coordinated blood transfusion services, but till the first decades of 2000, Pakistan’s BTS was running without any legal framework.

In 2008, some reforms were initiated to the blood safety system by National AIDS Control Programme with the technical and financial support of the renowned German Agency of International Cooperation (GIZ) and German Bank KFW was also on board for monetary help.

In continuance of these reforms, the Federal Government of Pakistan drafted a first ever National Policy and Strategic Framework 2008-2012 after that some positive changes were visible in the country’s blood safety system.

As per Constitution, health is state subject, but the federal character in the health sector remains relevant as a resolution under Article 144 of the Constitution was passed by provincial assemblies to allow Parliament to make and regulate the laws in the health sector, like Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP) Act 2012 but later on the subject of blood transfusion safety all provinces promulgated their legislations and have established respective authorities to regulate these legislations ie KP Blood Transfusion Safety Authority Act, 2016, Punjab Blood Transfusion Safety Authority Act, 2016.

The Sindh Safe Blood Transfusion Act, 2017, whereas Balochistan had already enacted the legislation in 2004.

In the recent pandemic COVID 19, the illegal sale and donation of blood was the talk of the town and people were seeking help for blood on social media sites and were posting their stories of so-called recoveries on social media sites when DRAP and the Ministry of Health only allows plasma for clinical trials.

Even organizations were collecting blood illegally when laws do not permit blood collection without a licence and same scenario no blood centre/bank is allowed to accept blood from paid donors.

Blood transfusion safety and transplantation of human organ and tissue laws of all provinces have penalty clauses against the contravention of laws and culprits can be sent behind bars for years and fined as well.

Since health is now a provincial subject, all provincial governments should implement transfusion and safety laws strictly so that the illegal collection and sale of blood can be stopped, which is the major source of spreading infectious diseases like HIV, Hepatitis etc.

Recently, there were reports of shortage of blood bags in Pakistan, government should arrange and facilitate local manufacturing of blood bags.

There is no doubt in saying that a donation of blood can save several lives. As factually proved, just one donation can save three lives.

The government should take strict action against illegal collection and sale of blood and arrange maximum motivational awareness for blood donation.

—The writer is practising lawyer in Health & Pharmaceutical Sector.

 

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