Decentralising the availability of safe transfusions outside Bangui is essential. Thanks to the cooperation between Sant’Egidio and AICS, it is being achieved
The availability of a blood transfusion saves a life, and if it is not available, a life may be lost, especially when it comes to children exposed to malaria, pregnant women giving birth in precarious conditions and places where accidents are frequent due to bad roads.
In the Central African Republic, the shortage of available blood bags is chronic, but not only that, the bags must be ‘safe’, i.e. they must have undergone a quality control process through complex and detailed laboratory tests. Very often, transfusions are not carried out due to a lack of blood bags, or are carried out without the necessary controls.
How can we accept to see so many children lose their lives or see mothers die of haemorrhage because of a missed transfusion?
This question has led to a project involving the DREAM Programme of the Community of Sant’Egidio, Italian Cooperation and the Ministry of Health.
A first step was to support and reinforce the CNTS at a central level in order to provide it with equipment, reagents, resources and personnel capable of making it work in a constant and continuous manner. Everyone played their part, with the Italian Cooperation providing funding, Sant’Egidio providing logistical and administrative support, the CTNS staff providing technical support and the Ministry of Health providing institutional support.
The challenge was ambitious from the start, but all the difficulties were overcome, despite the Covid outbreak that occurred during the project, which ran from 2020 to 2021.
The result at the end of the project was astonishing: the CNTS was able to respond to all the blood requests of the hospitals in the city of Bangui, especially the paediatric hospital (Complexe Pediatrque), no child lost their life due to a missed transfusion in the whole of 2020!
This great success has prompted the project to be extended and expanded for the whole of 2022. In addition to supporting the central CNTS, the aim is to make four regions of the country autonomous for the collection, analysis and storage of blood bags.
Decentralising the availability of safe transfusions outside Bangui ensures a response that must be rapid and immediate to be effective.
Since September 2021 we have been working actively on a new project called ’emergency initiative in support of the vulnerable population in the Central African Republic’, but last week was important because it was finally possible to deliver the pick-up car needed to reach the 4 regions and to organise the training and coordination work of the branch offices.
Everyone was present at the handover ceremony: the director of the CNTS, representatives of the Community of Sant’Egidio and of the Italian Cooperation, but above all, the Minister of Health Somse.
Everyone was able to describe the joy of the goals achieved in these years, but the Minister’s speech was particularly touching: ‘Today, some people might think that we are here just to receive a car….no, that’s not the case, we are here to say that this partnership works, that this joint work has enabled us to achieve complex goals, but I would like to stress that we have above all saved many lives, and that we want to protect many more. A country with a quality blood supply network is the basis for a health system and, thanks to Santegidio and AICS, we are achieving it.”
At the end of the ceremony the director got into the car to drive her personally to the CNTS headquarters, the ceremony, leaving the formalities behind, became a party and, among the various smiles and goodbyes, we know that we still have a lot to do together.