Towards securing safe donor blood - a strong barrier to HIV infection
Millions of lives are saved each year through blood transfusions. According to WHO estimates, every third person at least once in his /her lifetime needs donor blood. At the same time, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has focused particular attention on the importance of preventing transfusion-transmitted infections as up to 3% of HIV infections worldwide are transmitted through the transfusion of contaminated blood and blood products. Therefore, ensuring donor blood safety is one of the key elements in preventing the spread of many blood-transmitted infections, including HIV. In this regard, the Republic of Uzbekistan adopted a number of legislative documents on improving donor blood services.
The Government’s efforts in this area are supported by the UNDP Project, funded by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria "Continuing scale up of the response to HIV in Uzbekistan, with particular focus on most at risk populations and strengthening system and capacity for universal access to HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care in Uzbekistan". Red Crescent Society (RCS) of Uzbekistan as one of the Project sub-recipients implements the sub-project on enhancing the quality and quantity of blood donations in the country. The sub-project aims at mobilization of the general population to voluntary blood donorship through conducting advocacy and informational-educational activities in mahallas (local communities) in all regions of the country.
“Blood service is of strategic importance, as it concerns the issues of national security. Ensuring safety of donor blood for transfusions requires availability of sufficient reserves of donor blood at all times, which will enable proper examination of all donated blood. Therefore, securing adequate and reliable supply of blood can be sustainable only if there is a pool of regular voluntary donors from low-risk populations” – said Dr. Hamid Karimov, the Chairperson of RCS at the recent training for regional coordinators and social workers of RCS, which marked the rollout of the sub-project.
Ms. Rakhima Nazarova, Project Prevention Coordinator addressed the training participants: “As in any war, combats against epidemics are won by well-trained, motivated specialists, who actively engage in the process and involve a large number of volunteers. We hope that you will join the “army” of specialists, engaged in the combat against HIV and become one of the drivers of effective HIV response in Uzbekistan”.
The trained specialists will carry out educational and advocacy activities among general population throughout the country, aimed at raising awareness on the urgent need to donate blood and widening the pool of regular voluntary donors, select potential donors and refer them to blood transfusion centers.
Securing safe blood for those in need in the framework of UNDP Project will be one of the powerful barriers to blood-transmitted infections, including HIV in Uzbekistan.