By Carol Kasujja
The National Drug Authority has taken on the responsibility of inspecting and regulating blood banks in Uganda.
This follows the classification by WHO guidelines that blood is an essential medicine and it is supposed to be controlled at the national level through an effective organisation and a national blood policy.
“WHO recommended us to get involved in all activities related to blood collection, testing, counselling, screening, processing, storage and distribution to promote uniform implementation of standards and consistency in the quality and safety of blood and blood products ,” said Gordon Ssematiko, the NDA executive director.
The other issue is the ability to export blood plasma.
When NDA starts inspecting the bank, this will be made possible by putting quality assurance measures, including guidelines and principles.
Currently, blood bank lacks the facilities and equipment to keep it so they dispose of it.
Speaking to Sunday Vision at NDA offices in Kampala, Ssematiko said his team is in South Africa harmonising and making effort with other African drug regulatory agencies to start regulating blood in their countries and make sure that blood is stored safely.
“We are aware that National blood bank did not welcome the idea of NDA inspecting them, but they cannot self-regulate themselves. We have to make sure that they meet the standards,” Ssematiko said.
When contacted, Dorothy Kyeyune, Director, the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services said that she had heard about the WHO guidelines, but NDA has not yet received official communication.
“I do not even know whether they know what they are going to inspect because there are no standards of collecting blood yet,” she said.