WHO selects Sri Lanka for World Blood Donor Day 2014

2014 budget allocation for health services Rs. 164 billion: NBTS within these parameters

By Steve A. Morrell

The government’s budgetary allocation of Rs. 164 Billion for health services meant that the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) would have unbridled support to continue established high standards, Director-General, National Health Services, Dr. Palitha G. Mahipala said.

He said a financial allocation of this magnitude meant that the government had placed high priority status for health services aptly concurring that allied health services witnessed on-going improvement.

World Blood Donor Day ( WBDD) is a global event of significance world-wide and celebrated from June 9 to 14.

Responding to questions at a news conference last week, he said the incidence of HIV/AIDS had reduced drastically particularly because blood testing services in place are parallel to such services available in other countries.

The World Health Organization ( WHO) had taken cognizance of such strong supportive services sponsored by the government of Sri Lanka and selected Sri Lanka to host WBDD, he said.

The basis for selection, however, was dependent on a broad cross section of criteria. Applicable standards in health services featured within these assessment points. Selection depends on achievements and quality of transfusion services, Mahipala noted.

Past events were held in South Africa, UK, Thailand, Canada, Dubai, Australia Spain, Argentina, and France.

Achievement and quality of blood transfusion services carried out previously were featured assessment areas that qualified Sri Lanka to be selected, he said.

WBDD is an internationally celebrated event to pay tribute to voluntary blood donors.

National Blood Transfusion Services ( NBTS) of Sri Lanka, on recommendations of the WHO, functions as a centrally coordinated system ensuring the supply of quality assured blood and blood products to all government hospitals and the majority of private sector hospitals as well.

Clarifying assistance of blood supplies to the private sector, he said private hospitals are not left out but were subject to specific requests. "We certainly do not differentiate in blood supplies. We consider the private sector as part of our health services".

Mahipala said NBTS provides approximately 350,000 blood units annually to the health care system. 99. 4 percent of such supplies are collections from volunteer non-remunerated donors.

He said NBTS had set up 19 collection centers island-wide and the nucleus for collection had been set up to facilitate widespread collections.

Asked by the media on future direction of the NBTS, the Director-General said positive intrusion of the government and the ministry in particular will auger well for the future.

He said the budgetary allocation of Rs. 164 billion for health services was a considerable sum, and although he could not determine specific allocation for the NBTS, he was not apprehensive that such allocations would not be inconsiderable.

"This is the first time that such substantial funds have been made available for the health sector", he pointed out.

With the reputation earned by Sri Lanka and its credibility in its services for blood donations, expansive services could be expected, he assured.

Expanding on his comments for HIV/AIDS, Mahipala said incidence of spread of infection was limited to manageable numbers and recent statistics were that spread of the disease was gradually decreasing.

As for the WBDW celebrated in June this year, and that Sri Lanka was the selected country, to succeed France is an achievement that had to be mentioned in the highest levels.

The theme ‘Safe Blood for Saving Mothers’ will be an accentuated event at the BMICH in June when the WBDD (W) will be celebrated. A trade exhibition will be conducted at the BMICH premises. The theme would be ‘Transfusion Medicine & Maternal Health’

Firdosi Rustom Mehta, a WHO representative representing Country Director, WHO, Dr. Y. D. Nihal Jayatilleke Secretary, Ministry of Health Services and Dr. Anil Dissanayake, Director Health Services , were also present.


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