Safe Blood for Africa Focuses on Rural DRC

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 General News
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Helping to Stop the Spread of HIV/AIDS by Providing Safe Blood for Transfusions to Rural Populations

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Safe Blood for Africa Foundation (SBFA), a US-based non-profit organization, today released more details of its USAID-funded project to help improve the safety of blood used for transfusion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Begun one year ago, the DRC blood safety project has been developed in close coordination with the DRC Ministry of Health and National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) or Centre National de Transfusion Sanguine (CNTS), the USAID funded AXxes Integrated Health Services Program, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Belgium Red Cross and other local programs. The program is providing technical assistance and training to the NBTS and 57 Health Centers in S. Kivu by expanding the kind and quality of blood safety services that they are providing. The program has re-evaluated the existing long term strategic plan to provide a safe and adequate supply of blood for transfusion. The program has implemented two Train-the-Trainer programs to support blood safety todate: the first in a Voluntary Non Remunerated Blood Donor Program (VNRBD) and the second in blood safety, quality controls and rapid kit testing.

According to Jeff Busch, founder and Chairman of SBFA, "A safe blood program can save hundreds of thousands of lives in the DRC."

Safe Blood for Africa is currently operating this program with a three-pronged approach: distribution of test kits, training and quality monitoring, and long-term program development.

The Safe Blood for Africa program in the DRC serves as the hub for crucial regional training activities. Under the auspices of its CDC/PEPFAR-funded Multi-Country Regional Training Program, SBFA in the DRC will be hosting a training program later this fall for representatives from Francophone sub-Saharan African countries. This is part of a larger, continent-wide program to provide training in blood safety and related issues to those countries receiving a smaller amount of international funding. The training forum provides a rare opportunity for healthcare professionals from several countries to interact, receive much-requested training, and develop action plans relevant to each country or province's needs.

Safe Blood for Africa Foundation ("Safe Blood for Africa") is a US-based 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to establish a safe and adequate blood supply in sub-Saharan Africa for safe blood transfusions throughout the region. It works in 34 countries throughout the region, providing training and technical assistance to those countries requesting such help. Safe Blood for Africa's regional headquarters is in Johannesburg, South Africa, and it has major operations in Angola, Botswana and Nigeria.

-- It is helping to save lives in the rural areas by distributing HIV instant test kits, which provide a means to test blood for the AIDS virus before transfusion. These tests enable safe blood in less developed areas without sophisticated equipment. Utilizing these tests has already saved hundreds of lives in the DRC and will save thousands more throughout the duration of the program. -- Safe Blood for Africa has an in-country staff of highly trained DRC physicians and laboratory healthcare specialists to ensure the proper utilization of the tests and to provide local training and program coordination for more in-depth training and other related activities. The staff is experienced in the public health arena and has worked in both the rural and urban parts of the DRC, including programs designed to prevent the spread of HIV, malaria and other blood-borne diseases.

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