Islamabad-The ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has turned a blind eye towards the performance of Safe Blood Transfusion Program (SBTP), which despite receiving millions in foreign aid in the last ten years has provided least to the public health, The Nation learned on Wednesday.

Against the tall claims of the SBTP, none of its ten regional blood centers is fully functional and facilitating the general public in provision and screening of the blood to patients and hospitals.

The official said that German KFW Development Bank is providing the financial assistance to the program and the latter has so far received 15million Euros in aid.

“Safe Blood Transfusion Program work exists in papers rather than ground,” said the official.

Safe Blood Transfusion Program, a vertical health program under ministry of National Health Services was initiated in 2008.

Under the program, the authority had to establish 10 regional blood centers to centralize the blood banks system in the country.

The centers were to be established in Muzaffarabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Bahawalpur, Multan, Gilgit, Jamshoro, Karachi, Nawabshah and Sukkur.

The regional blood center in Gilgit is non-functional, while the foundation stone of the center announced in Islamabad has not even been laid.

Official added that under the project, regional blood banks were to be established in each province, while the main central blood bank was to be set up in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, the Safe Blood Transfusion Program held the inauguration ceremony of the Islamabad’s blood center in a five star hotel, where the ex-minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Tariq Fazal Chaudhry was invited.

Official informed that the same authority is responsible for blood regulation system in the federal capital with the different name of Islamabad Blood Transfusion Authority (IBTA), but no productive role of the authority has been observed in enhancing the blood banks of the public sector hospitals of the city which have a large influx of patients.

No major initiative for public health safety has been taken including installation of blood screening system, providing technical assistance, training of staff or provision of blood of the modern equipments to the public hospitals, said official.

The official said that the authority was mandated for establishing as well as up-gradation of the blood banks of the public sector hospital but it has done nothing.

“The patients’ sufferings have not reduced when blood is required in the hospital and they are asked to arrange the blood by themselves by hospital administrations, “said the official.

Official said that the authority has confined its role up-to some administrative affairs of check and balance in the blood banks but has contributed nothing to enhance the capacity of the blood banks.

The statement released by Safe Blood Transfusion Program said that the program despite challenges successfully completed the implementation of the first phase of the project in which a nationwide infrastructure was created consisting of construction and equipping of a network of 10 modern Regional Blood Centres, and renovating and refurbishing 60 existing hospital blood banks.

It is estimated that after the completion of the Phase II of the project in 2019, about 35% coverage of the national service delivery will be through the new system, said the statement.

Program manager SBTP Prof. Hasan Abbas Zaheer briefed the minister for NHS Aamer Mahmood  Kiani, about the working of the Islamabad Blood Transfusion Authority (IBTA).

As a result of the efforts of the IBTA, the blood regulation has been streamlined in the federal capital. Currently, 18 public and private sector blood banks have been granted licenses, 5 are registered and five have been closed down due to poor standards, the minister was told.

The statement released by NHS said that minister Aamer Mahmood Kiani, was briefed on the implementation of the German government funded SBTP and the regulation of the blood transfusion sector by Prof. Hasan Abbas Zaheer, National Coordinator SBTP and Chairman, IBTA.

The minister underscored the significance of the preventive aspect in healthcare especially blood transfusion and promised full support of the new government for strengthening the blood transfusion system in the country, statement said.