Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton Monday ordered an immediate investigation into the operations of the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS) amid public reports of alleged irregularities.
Last week, it was alleged that Donor blood positive for HIV and other STDs was being dispatched to patients, among other issues of professional misconduct at the facility.
“The reports of irregularities at the Blood Bank have come to the attention of the executive management at the Ministry of Health & Wellness and we are deeply concerned and have asked that an investigation be conducted immediately,” said the health ministry.
“The report of a process error, in particular, is of great concern, however, the Ministry would like to reassure the public that no contaminated blood product was issued, arising out of this,” Tufton said of the operations of the Blood Bank, which has responsibility for the collection, testing and distribution of all blood and its by-products distributed across Jamaica.
He said that the NBTS continues to process blood products using international standards and best practices and that the process to ensure that safe blood products are provided to the population is very detailed and includes screening of all blood for infectious markers.
“This process is carried out every time blood is donated, even if by a repeat donor,” Tufton said, noting that the Blood Bank is a critical part of the public health system “even as we continue to combat COVID-19”.
The Health and Wellness Minister said that the public can be assured that the donation and receipt of blood products is safe and is needed for the treatment of several disorders.
“We are urging the public, especially during this season, when trauma cases, in particular, increases, to make it a priority to donate blood,” Tufton added.
The transfusion of blood and blood products have saved thousands of lives in Jamaica and last year, the Blood Bank collected close to 35,000 units.
The ministry says it expects to get a report in the coming weeks and will address any concerns and or recommendations that may arise from the findings of the investigation.