BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), a leading global medical technology company, and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today set in motion a joint, multi-year initiative to improve blood collection practices in African clinics and hospitals.
The program is designed to protect both health workers and patients in countries severely impacted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic by improving blood collection practices. The initiative ultimately aims to support training for thousands of healthcare workers in sub-Saharan Africa, tracking hundreds of thousands of blood draws per year within each participating country.
The three-year initiative -- which may be extended for up to two additional years -- is beginning today in Kenya under the leadership of the Kenyan Ministries of Health through the National AIDS and STI Control Program.
Through the program in Kenya and under the leadership of the Government of Kenya, Kenyan health workers will be trained as master trainers in safe blood draw practices. These master trainers will later lead trainings in regions throughout the country. Instructors and trainers from the Kenya Medical Training College will participate in the trainings, and help to integrate the information from the program into the College's health worker training curriculum. And as part of the initiative, BD is also funding construction of incinerators at two Kenyan sites to improve on their medical waste management. Combined, these efforts will enhance the goal of the Kenya National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan (KNASP-III) to eliminate HIV transmission in healthcare settings by 2013.
"BD's training efforts in Kenya will help protect the already short supply of healthcare workers from unnecessary injury and disease exposure, while also helping to assure the quality of blood specimens and ultimately the accuracy of diagnosis," said Gary Cohen, Executive Vice President, BD. "At the same time, we will be working with local authorities to help develop standardized protocols for blood collection, specimen handling and reporting that will improve occupational safety in Kenyan health facilities and strengthen the country's overall health system."
"It is very timely to update our training on blood collection. We therefore welcome this partnership through which we will be able to advance our learning via training provided by BD's resources," said Dr Willis Akhwale of the Kenyan Ministry of Health. "Given that we have stepped up our focus on diagnosis, it is important to ensure that the blood drawn for diagnosing is a good quality sample," added Dr Nicholas Muraguri of Kenya's National AIDS and STI Control Program.
"The U.S. is committed to helping to strengthen health systems in developing countries for the long-term by supporting national leadership," said Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. "Sustainable programs must be country-owned and country-driven. This is why we are proud to be supporting the Government of Kenya and their leadership role in this initiative. National healthcare delivery systems need to maintain first-rate specimen quality – and protect the safety of patients and medical staff – through safer blood collection practices. Through our collaboration with BD, PEPFAR will support Kenya and other countries in developing this critical capacity."
The safer blood collection initiative helps to train clinical and laboratory personnel in blood-drawing procedures and specimen handling, processes essential to the appropriate management of HIV/AIDS patients. The initiative helps to ensure specimen quality, and minimizing exposure to the virus among health workers by providing treatment in case of accidental exposure. In addition, the program helps prevent needlestick injuries by establishing or enhancing needlestick injury surveillance, which helps to identify people in need of life saving post-exposure prophylaxis and correct practices that pose risks to health workers and patients.
Over the past several years, safer blood collection has become increasingly important in sub-Saharan nations and other developing countries with a high incidence of HIV/AIDS. Access to HIV treatment in these nations has also expanded significantly during this time. This has led to a large increase in the number of blood collections for HIV screening and monitoring tests.
The initiative, which will expand to include up to four additional PEPFAR-supported countries, is being implemented by PEPFAR through CDC's Global AIDS Program. As part of their collaboration, PEPFAR and BD are working on the ground with Ministries of Health, national reference laboratories and various implementing partners. In each participating nation, a technical working group – consisting of the Ministry of Health, CDC, and BD – is taking the lead in developing tailored policies, guidelines and standard operating procedures for blood drawing and specimen handling. Carrying out these plans, a team of US- and Africa-based BD technical personnel, who have themselves received specialized training in managing such a far-reaching initiative, will conduct the blood collection safety educational program on site. BD is donating product for this collaboration through its logistical partner, AmeriCares, a nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization.
BD and PEPFAR are collaborating on two other programs aimed at improving healthcare systems in sub-Saharan Africa:
- In October 2007, BD and PEPFAR launched a five-year initiative to improve the quality of laboratories in sub-Saharan Africa
- In October 2008, BD, PEPFAR and the International Council of Nurses announced a three-year, public-private partnership to establish a new Wellness Centre for Healthcare Workers® in Kampala, Uganda