Friday, September 7, 2012


TANZANIA healthcare workers will learn improved phlebotomy and blood drawing practices through a new initiative led by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in partnership with the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

A statement released by BD (Becton Dickinson) in Dar es Salaam said The Tanzania Initiative for Blood-Drawing Applications (TIBA) aims to improve overall healthcare. BD is a global medical technology company that develops, manufactures and sells medical devices, instrument systems and reagents.

Phlebotomy, is the drawing of blood from patients' veins using a needle and syringe. It is one of the most commonly performed medical procedures in hospitals and clinics, though there are risks associated with this procedure. A 2008 survey conducted in 14 Tanzanian health institutions found that needle pricks (52.9 per cent) and splash of blood from patients (21.7 per cent) were common among healthcare workers.

Given the prevalence of the blood-drawing procedure - approximately 1,500,000 drawings per year in Tanzania - it is vital that clinicians take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their patients from blood borne infections, such as HIV. Under this two-year programme, BD will provide training on blood-drawing practices, specimen handling and safety measures to prevent needle stick injuries, thereby improving safety for both patients and health workers.

These master trainers will then lead trainings in regions throughout the country. The programme ultimately aims to train at least 500 healthcare workers in Tanzania. Helping ensure specimen quality and minimize exposure to the HIV virus among health workers by providing treatment in case of accidental exposures.

Helping prevent needle stick injuries by establishing needle stick injury surveillance, which helps to identify people in need of life-saving, post-exposure prophylaxis. Correct practices that pose risk to health workers and patients. Participating sites include Amana Regional Referral Hospital, Bugando Medical Centre, Iringa Regional Referral Hospital, Lindi Regional Referral Hospital, Mbeya Consultant Hospital, Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute, Singida Regional Referral Hospital, Tabora Regional Referral Hospital, Bombo Tanga Regional Referral Hospital and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre.

"This collaboration comes at an appropriate time as the Quality Assurance Directorate of the Tanzania Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, through the Health Services Inspectorate and Quality Assurance Section, is finalizing the National Phlebotomy Guidelines for Quality and Safe Health Care Services and the National Injection Safety Devices Policy Guidelines, said Minister of Health and Social Welfare Dr Hussein Mwinyi.

"Safe blood drawing is an area that requires much improvement and BD will help strengthen our efforts by developing phlebotomy curriculum and guidelines," he added. The PEPFAR partnership has demonstrated much success in Kenya and Zambia to date," said Dr Koku Kazaura, Acting HIV-Prevention Branch Chief of CDC. "After our team experienced the trainings first hand in Kenya, we were very eager to engage in this partnership to create a programme that addresses our own country's needs."

"Safe blood sample procedures are important for accurate diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and diseases," said Renuka Gadde, Vice President, Global Health, BD. "BD's training efforts in Tanzania will help healthcare workers protect themselves against unnecessary needle stick injuries and possible disease exposure while also helping improve the blood samples. We look forward to working with the Tanzanian government in developing standards and processes that will help protect healthcare workers and improve patient outcomes."

"As the number of healthcare services increases in Tanzania," added Natalie Hendler, Infection Project Director, Jhpiego Tanzania, "we need to ensure that quality is maintained. This initiative will help guarantee that blood draws and phlebotomy are being done in a standardized and high-quality manner across Tanzania."

Jhpiego, a technical assistance partner for the MoHSW, will join in the efforts to manage and scale up these improved services.

"It is critical that these programmes support the master trainers to develop a cadre of fully-skilled health care workers capable of safe blood drawing practices," said Brian Rettmann, PEPFAR-Tanzania Country Coordinator. "PEPFAR recognizes that human resources are vital to creating sustainable, country-owned systems."


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