Afghanistan | News | WHO and ECHO scale up Afghanistan’s blood banks to guarantee safer transfusions

WHO and ECHO scale up Afghanistan’s blood banks to guarantee safer transfusions

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Gulab Shah donates blood at the Herat Regional Hospital. Photo: WHO/S.RamoGulab Shah donates blood at the Herat Regional Hospital. Photo: WHO/S.RamoKabul 14 June 2017 – With the support of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), WHO supports Afghanistan’s blood banks to ensure safe blood transfusions that save Afghan lives. In the past year, WHO has equipped 10 provincial and regional hospitals with necessary supplies to strengthen blood transfusion services and to enable them to gather, test, store and preserve blood safely and effectively.

Plasma separation, which can be used to treat a range of diseases, has not been available in Afghanistan before WHO and ECHO joined forces to strengthen the country’s blood banks. Now a single unit of blood can be used to benefit several patients.

“I give blood every 3 months in this hospital because I want to save lives and help my fellow Afghans,” said Gulab Shah who was donating blood at the Herat Regional Hospital where WHO recently scaled up blood transfusion services. “I notice a big difference in this hospital from last year, its capacity and equipment and overall services have improved a lot.”

Dr Turabi at the blood storage unit at the Herat Regional Hospital. Photo: WHO/S.RamoDr Turabi at the blood storage unit at the Herat Regional Hospital. Photo: WHO/S.Ramo“I have been working in this blood bank for 31 years and this is the first time we have such advanced equipment and we have all received training from WHO on how to operate the new equipment. Now we can separate plasma and platelets which is a huge achievement,” said Dr Faiz Ahmad Turabi, head of the blood bank at the Herat Regional Hospital.

Blood transfusions help save thousands of lives every year in Afghanistan. Given the intensifying conflict in many parts of the country, more people rely on the availability of safe blood transfusion services.

“There is a dire need for more voluntary blood donors to meet demand in Afghanistan. Most of the donated blood goes to trauma cases due to conflict and other emergencies, but a lot is needed also for C-sections, surgeries, children with anaemia and for women with severe pregnancy complications,” said Dr Dauod Altaf, Emergency Coordinator at WHO Afghanistan.

In addition to providing equipment and supplies to guarantee the effective and safe operation of blood banks, in the past year WHO has trained 31 blood bank staff from 19 provinces on plasma separation and safe blood transfusions.

WHO and ECHO equip blood banks to enable safer and more effective operations. Photo: WHO/S.RamoWHO and ECHO equip blood banks to enable safer and more effective operations. Photo: WHO/S.Ramo“WHO’s partnership with ECHO has been crucial in allowing us to build the capacity of Afghanistan’s blood banks and blood transfusion services over the past 4 years,” said Dr Richard Peeperkorn, WHO Country Representative in Afghanistan. “Through this project we have been able to ensure timely access to safe and sufficient supplies of blood and blood products and good transfusion practices to meet patients’ needs.”

With the support of ECHO, WHO continues to support safe blood donation in Afghanistan through training health care providers on blood transfusion and blood bank management, supporting the blood transfusion service surveillance system and developing national guidelines and standards for blood transfusion.

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Key health-related statistics

Population (m) 29.7
Health expenditure (% of GDP) 9.5
Adult (15+) literacy rate (%) 34.8
Life expectancy at birth F/M (2010) 63.2-63.6

Sources: Central Statistics office, Afghanistan National health Accounts, Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey, Afghanistan mortality survey. 

Framework for health information systems and core indicators for monitoring health situation and health system performance, 2018

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Regional Health Observatory

WHO Afghanistan Programme Overview 

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