Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 8th 2014 Contents does not need to stand there in a supervisory
role while they take blood. She could be
assisting in prepping other donors."
Khan noted there was also an urgent need
for a clerical assistant whose role was cur-
rently being filled by a nurse as well.
All of this contributes to the inefficiency
existing there. So there needs to be an entire
overhaul of the system at the blood bank
to make it more efficient and welcoming to
the public," said Khan.
He stated the blood bank needed to func-
tion as a business and led by someone with
excellent management skills, who does not
necessarily have to be a haematologist.
"A hematologist is an expert in dealing
with blood disorders, not a manager,"Khan
He also revealed the ministry s plans to
fully refurbish and remodel the current
NBTS building at 160 Charlotte Street. No
specific date for the start of refurbishment
has been set.
He noted while the building is being
reconditioned, the interim blood bank would
operate out of a containerised office which
will be placed on location at the old Pan
American Health Organisation (PAHO)
building, at Jernignham Avenue in Belmont.
The building is tentatively set for demolition
in early 2015.
Speaking on the mobile collection service
which is currently operated in conjunction
with the Friends of The Blood Bank Asso-
ciation, Khan said it may soon fall under
the Regional Health Authority (RHA). He
dispelled unconfirmed reports of a complete
cancellation of the service, saying that the
service could not be stopped.
"The mobile service too, has not been
able to be effective because of few staff as
well. But that service cannot be stopped.
What I have asked the association and NBTS
to do, is to open the blood bank after hours
during the week and on weekends to facil-
itate the public who would like to give blood
but cannot during their working hours," said
Last month Jamaica reported a major shortage
in blood donation due a chikungunya (chikV), out-
break on the island.
National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) acting
director, Veronica Taylor was quoted as saying the
crisis was as a result of donors being turned away
because they were infected with the virus. She revealed
the agency was in a desperate need of 12,000 units
of blood and all unaffected citizens were asked to be
co-operative and donate blood.
In T&T experts say to date, the virus was not a
threat despite reports of increased cases.
Last month Dr Adelle Chin said there were more
ChikV cases in the country than what was being
reported. Chin has been commissioned by the Ministry
of Health to deal with international health regulations
and the protocol of entry to T&T considering the
threat of Ebola. She said there were more than the
reported 3,500 suspected cases in the country. And
this was so because many people have been doing
self- treatments rather than seeking medical assis-
But according to Dr Nordet Carrera, director of
NBTS T&T, there have been no reports suggesting
any significant change in the number of donations
in connection with the increase of ChikV cases in
the country. She added though it was theoretically
possible to transmit the virus through donations as
the virus remains present for several days in the
blood stream. Transfusion transmission of ChikV
had not been documented.
When contacted for comment on the issue, Minister
of Health Dr Fuad Khan said if the virus were to be
a contributing factor at all to a shortage in blood
donations, it would only be creating an additional
lack, as T&T has always suffered a shortage of blood
donations. Khan said when it comes to the public,
90 per cent of donated blood comes from emergency
situations. To mitigate this he revealed a number of
national blood drives were coming on stream, but
not before the agency got a complete facelift with
regards to its organisational structure. Khan said cur-
rently the service was being poorly managed and
there continued to be an issue with short staff, result-
ing in a constant go slow and long waiting process
"Added to that fact, the current staff is also being
misused. For instance, the phlebotomists at the blood
bank are trained and qualified phlebotomists, a nurse
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CHIKV AND BLOOD DONATION
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