The Punjab Health Minister, Khawaja Salman Rafique, and German Ambassador, Ina Lapel, recently inaugurated a modern Regional Blood Centre in Multan developed with the German government grant through KfW-German Development Bank and the EPOS-implemented "Safe Blood Transfusion Project". The inauguration ceremony also covered the opening of a similar Centre in Bahawalpur by the project with a total funding of Rs. 30 crore (Euro 2.6 million).
The two Regional Blood Centres are among 10 Centres developed with the German government grant of Rs.2 Billion (15 million Euro) as part of the establishment of a nationwide network of 10 modern blood centres and renovation of 59 existing hospital based blood banks throughout the country in the first phase of the project. The second phase of the project has now started in which the scope and coverage will be expanded with continued Germen support. In Punjab, during the Phase II, a new Centre will be developed in Faisalabad and the renovation of blood banks in Mayo and Jinnah Hospitals in Lahore will also take place in addition to strengthening of the existing private sector blood banks.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony held on March 15th, the Health Minister expressed his appreciation to the German Government for the gift of a Blood Centres to the people of the Punjab. He also expressed appreciation to the Germen delegation for coming to Multan for the Inauguration ceremony which was attended by Dr. Masuma Zaidi, KfW-German Development Bank. Prof. Hasan Abbas Zaheer, National Coordinator, Safe Blood Transfusion Programme and Zahid Mahmood Team Leader EPOS and hosted by the Provincial Health Secretary, Mr. Najam Shah and Dr. Zafar Iqbal, Provincial Manager.
The Health Minister also acknowledged Prof. Zaheer for his leadership and commitment in steering the Blood Project with exemplary dedication and devotion. The Health Minister committed full support for the smooth functioning of the new Centres and the implementation of the Blood Programme in the province. The Health Minister appealed the local population, especially youth, to donate voluntary blood to the regional blood centres in Multan and Bahawalpur.
The German Ambassador congratulated the Health Minister and Secretary Health for their keen interest in the implementation of the Blood Project in their province as well as for organizing the inauguration of the Regional Blood Centres. She expressed the hope that these Centres will herald a new era of blood safety for the people of South Punjab. She informed that in the second phase the provincial focus is going to be on Central Punjab. She 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. The KfW Dr. Masuma Zaidi also spoke on the occasion and expressed her delight at the inauguration and functioning of another Regional Blood Centre following similar functions in Gilgit-Bltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
Prof. Zaheer, National Coordinator of the project informed that the Regional Blood Centres serve as blood procurement and distribution centre ensuring quality systems to regulate all activities which involve mobilization and retention of voluntary and regular blood donors, maintenance of donor database, collection of blood donations as well as processing, screening, testing, component preparation and storage of the prepared components. A customized Management Information System has been especially procured by the Programme for the smooth functioning of the new system. He added that the blood components prepared in these two Centres will be provided to their linked eleven hospital blood banks in and around Multan and Bahawalpur. These eleven existing Hospital Blood Banks have been provided new equipment and the blood banks functionally re-modeled and converted into patient oriented hospital transfusion services to perform the function of storage, distribution, compatibility testing and haemovigilance. Other private and NGO sector hospitals of the region will also be provided blood components by these Centres.
In his remarks, Director, Institute of Blood Transfusion Punjab thanked the German government for supporting the blood project in Punjab and assured full operationalisation of the regional blood centres and promotion of voluntary donations. These two RBCs will provide safe blood and blood products to about 4 million people of the south Punjab living in districts of Multan, Muzaffargarh, Khanewal, Lodhran, and Bahawalpur. He thanked the German Ambassador and the KfW delegation for especially coming to Multan for the inaugurations. He also appreciated the support provided by EPOS and GOPA German consulting companies for the design and implementation of the project. After the inaugural ceremony, the guests visited different sections of the Blood Centre and inspected the modern facility.
The inauguration event was featured across local and international media:
The Express Tribune - Pakistan;
The Nation - Pakistan;