interviewBy Immaculate Karambu
A $2 million initiative seeking to improve laboratory services in Sub-Saharan Africa has been launched.
Becton and Dickinson (BD), a USA based biomedical technology company and PEPFAR (US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief) launched the programme late last month.
The project focuses on safer methods of drawing blood to reduce exposure to HIV and related diseases among medical personnel.
It is carried out in collaboration with Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and National Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infections Control Programme (Nascop) in Nyanza, Nairobi, Central and Rift Valley.
Training will be conducted at provincial and district hospitals.
BD's senior director for global health in pre-analytical systems, Renuka Gadde, talked with Business Daily.
What is the driving force behind the safe blood collection initiative in Africa?
BD has been carrying out safe blood collection campaigns globally for years. The initiative being piloted in Kenya came as a result of signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between BD and PEPFAR to strengthen laboratory systems in five sub-Saharan Africa countries.
The pilot is being carried out in the local hospitals that were identified by the Ministry of Health, CDC and Nascop, the main organisations we are working with.
Vacutainer is safe equipment for drawing blood and has been in the global market since 1948.
It is safer than the ordinary syringe both in terms of reducing chances for the health worker contracting diseases while drawing specimen and the quality of the specimen is maintained.
The device has two syringes, making it easier for the medical personnel to transfer blood into a test tube as it goes directly to the vacuum tube from the patient.
This is important as cases of the medical staff injecting themselves while transferring the specimen are reduced at the same time lowering chances of contamination.
How is it financed?
The total value of the initiative is $2 million and it is expected to run for three years.
BD has injected $1 million into the initiative being in terms of funds, human resources and curriculum to train local staff and worth of equipment to be used in the initiative.
Other funds are mainly from PEPFAR and other supporting organisations.
What can be said of the blood collection technology in Kenya?
It could be harsh if I said that there is no safe blood collection in Kenya. There is high potential for safe blood collection locally and even the new technology for blood collection is present in the country.
All that needs to be done is invest in training more medical personnel to embrace the new technology and improve on safer use of the technology.
We are quite impressed that the initiative to train on safe blood collection has picked up well and we are expecting more positive results.
At the end of the three-year initiative, what is the partnership hoping to achieve?
The core purpose of the initiative is to promote safer blood collection through new technology at the same time train medical personnel on safer handling of the blood drawing technology.
At the lapse of the three years, achievements will be gauged on how best the safer blood collection mission has been achieved, to what extent has the risk of exposing medical personnel to infection has the initiative been able to achieve and, of course, if the it has enhanced accurate diagnosis by reducing instances of specimen contamination.
Our aim was to train few medical personnel who we expect should train others in their respective work stations.
The training should not stop after the initiative's term ends because through the support of the Ministry of Health, the trained medical staff will be take over the role of trainers at their work stations.