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Improving Safety of Blood Supply in Ecuador

Blood-Screening Program Making a Difference

Building a Better Process

The safety of the blood supply depends on the quality of the processes used in its processing, including screening for disease markers. However, lack of financial resources, weak enforcement of regulations and oversight, and lack of training create risks for the transmission of diseases through blood transfusions. At present, our Center for Research on Health in Latin America (CISeAL) in Ecuador serves as the organizing center for the “External Performance Evaluation Program in serological screening” for the blood banks of Ecuador. This program was initiated in 2003 and is actively catalyzing the implementation of better procedures and training within the blood services in Ecuador. These efforts aim to determine the effectiveness of the blood screening procedures in the country and recommend interventions to improve the safety of the blood supply.

In addition, in March 2006, we initiated the "Internal Serological Control Program." This program allows for daily or weekly oversight of the results obtained by all blood banks in the country in every "run" of blood screening. This is accomplished by the inclusion in each plate or batch of testing of a sample characterized sera. The same sera is distributed to all laboratories and analysis of the daily results allows to detect systemic or random errors. 

A technical support hotline was setup at the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Quito to provide assistance to the technicians. Since its inception in May 2006, 1800 minutes of phone technical assistance have been logged.

The CISeAL organizes periodic training for blood bank technicians and certificates of satisfactory completion. The training consists of three full days of practical and theoretical training in blood screening techniques, standard operation procedures, quality control, plate validation and reporting. Trainees need to obtain 85 percent in both practical and theoretical evaluations to be certified. To date, 60 technicians have attended the training. The initial certification is now required for employment at a blood screening laboratory. A one-day refresher course is offered annually to those who have obtained the initial certification. 

Partners : Ecuadorian Red Cross, Catholic University of Ecuador and Ohio University

Funding : Bloods Banks of Ecuador, Ecuadorian Red Cross, Ohio University, Pan American health Organization