Health Minister Calls for Review of Blood Bank Operations

As I mentioned in my latest news update, disconcerting news came in a few days ago of alleged irregularities at the National Blood Transfusion Service (Blood Bank). Here is the latest release from the Ministry of Health and Wellness on the matter. One hopes that they will quickly get to the bottom of this, and clear the air. There is an almost chronic shortage of blood at the Blood Bank (exacerbated by COVID-19) and many blood drives have taken place recently. Blood donations save lives!

Health Minister Calls for Review of Blood Bank Operations

KINGSTON, Jamaica. Sunday, November 22, 2020: Following reports and information made public regarding alleged irregularities at the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS), Minister of Health & Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton has ordered a comprehensive investigation into the operations of the Blood Bank, which has responsibility for the collection, testing and distribution of all blood and its byproducts distributed across Jamaica.

According to Dr. Tufton, “The reports of irregularities at the Blood Bank have come to the attention of the executive management at the Ministry of Health & Wellness and we are deeply concerned and have asked that an investigation be conducted immediately. The report of a process error, in particular is of great concern; however, the Ministry would like to reassure the public that no contaminated blood product was issued, arising out of this.”

Additionally, the Minister noted, that the National Blood Transfusion Service continues to process blood products using international standards and best practices and that the process to ensure that safe blood products are provided to the population is very detailed and includes screening of all blood for infectious markers. This process is carried out every time blood is donated, even if by a repeat donor. “The Blood Bank is a critical part of the public health system even as we continue to combat COVID-19 and the public can be assured that the donation and receipt of blood products is safe and is needed for the treatment of several disorders.  We are urging the public, especially during this season, when trauma cases, in particular, increases, to make it a priority to donate blood,” Dr. Tufton added.  

The transfusion of blood and blood products have saved thousands of lives in Jamaica and last year, the Blood Bank collected close to 35,000 units.

The Ministry is expected to get a report in the coming weeks and will address any concerns and/or recommendations that may arise from the findings of the investigation. 

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