Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar

State Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination              

The World Health Assembly resolutions WHA 28.72 (1975) and WHA 58.13 (2005) urge Member States to develop nationally coordinated blood transfusion services. Pakistan is a signatory to these resolutions and 23 other similar resolutions on blood safety passed by the World Health Assembly during the last thirty five years. To fulfill these international obligations and the MDG 4, 5 and 6, the government of Pakistan initiated blood safety systems reforms in 2008 including the establishment of a nationally coordinated de-centralized and province oriented blood transfusion system. Now all critical activities within the blood system are coordinated at the national level to promote uniform standards; economies of scale; consistency in the quality and safety of blood and blood products, and best transfusion practices.

The health plays a key role in determining the human capital and the quality of public health services in Pakistan has seen an upturn over the last couple of years. The present government remains committed to the cause and the transfusion safety has been included as a priority area in the draft National Health Policy in order to achieve substantial improvements in the blood sector.

Indeed the provision of safe, efficacious and affordable blood is the responsibility of the government. At present this role is fulfilled by various partners in the public and private NGO sector and with insufficient regulatory oversight. In fact the current fragmented service delivery system is not very conducive for the promotion of blood safety and hence the reforms being implemented by the government with the support of the German partners, KfW and GiZ, through the Safe Blood Transfusion Project is most critical to the to bring about a paradigm shift in the sector.

The years 2014-5 have been full of remarkable achievements for the Programme, The new National Blood Policy and the Strategic Framework for the next five years was developed; the PC-1 of the programme at the federal level was approved by the CDWP; work on the development of provincial PC-1s initiated; construction of the new regional blood centers conducted; procurement of equipment and MIS systems completed; regulatory authorities strengthened and administrative measures initiated to operationlize the new centers and system. And now as the first phase of the project is nearing successful completion, the second phase agreement is ready to be signed between the German and Pakistan government.

The government of Pakistan remains fully committed to promote blood safety in the country and greatly appreciates the continued commitment and support of the German partners for this project of immense public health importance. I congratulate the dedicated team of the Safe Blood Transfusion Programme for their hard work and commitment and especially acknowledge the role of Prof. Hasan Abbas Zaheer in steering this project very professionally and ably and taking it to greater heights.