PESHAWAR: The health department has planned to contract out its regional blood centres in Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan and Abbottabad to private firms to ensure that they become fully functional by early March.
Bids have been invited by the government-owned Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Foundation for the initiative to be carried out under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Private Partnership Act, 2020.
Officials of the department told Dawn that the three regional blood centres were established during the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal government but remained ‘dormant’ until they began partial operations five years ago.
They said the centres were meant to provide blood to the critically-ill patients admitted to hospitals of the same region free of charge and on need basis besides scaling up public awareness of blood donation.
Health officials claim RBCs will be fully operational by March
The officials insisted that the performance of blood centres wasn’t up to the mark and therefore, the health department had decided outsource their operations.
They said the contract-winning organisations would be given the control of RBCs by the district health officers, who currently managed the centres.
The officials said the project included the operations and maintenance of RBCs, which would generate blood and its products, and would have serve as the storage and distribution centres for hospitals in their respective areas.
They said the accord would be signed under the principles of the Good Manufacturing and Good Laboratories Practices.
The officials said the Health Foundation was mandated to outsource public health facilities to firms having experience in operating the health system with a view to improve their performance and cater to the healthcare needs of catchment population.
They said the relevant district health officers would provide policy guidelines to the selected organisations and would ensure the timely provision of funds.
The officials said the RBCs failed to deliver the goods and motivate the people for blood donation on which the lives of the seriously-ill and injured patients depended.
They said the RBCs outsourcing decision had been taken after a long review, which showed that the centres required to be operated on fast-track basis to address blood shortages for lifesaving procedures in hospitals.
The officials said the centres would be strengthened to screen donors for hepatitis, malaria, HIV and other diseases to ensure that patients get safe blood.
They added that the safe blood transfusion in district and tehsil headquarters was one of the main objectives of the move by the Health Foundation, which had already contracted out health facilities in the merged tribal districts.
The officials said the foundation would set performance indicators for private organisations to operate blood centres and would be responsible for contract management, review and monitoring.
They said the government would continue to provide proper budget to those centres as usual, but they would be managed by NGOs or other organisations to be selected for them after the completion of bidding exercise.
The officials said the partner organisations would impart training to staff members in blood collection and management and evaluation of the project to ensure high bio-safety measures for them and provide blood and its products of the best quality to patients.
They said they interested organisations had been asked to furnish plans and timelines for their execution to make the RBCs fully operational.
The officials said a third party would carry out the audit of the related affairs.
Meanwhile, employees of the regional blood centres have voiced concern about the move and declared it a bid to privatise the centres and thus, rendering them jobless.
They told Dawn on condition of anonymity that instead of selling out those centres, the government should strengthen them by providing them with better funding.
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2021