General News of Saturday, 5 January 2019
The Five-Member Independent Committee, set up by the Ministry of Health to investigate allegations of blood contamination from the Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) has debunked the accusation.
The Committee affirmed that detailed laboratory investigations conducted on the same blood units in contention by an independent private Lab, showed that the product did not contain any HIV pathogen or effective organisms that could cause Syphilis.
Dr Oheneba Owusu-Danso, the Chief Executive Officer of the Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, who presented the report to Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu, Minister of Health, in Accra on Friday, stated the highlights of the bulky Report.
He assured the public that the hospital had the best of laboratory equipment’s for the best outcomes, and stressed that all blood and its products from the facility were very safe for use.
He explained that the Committee was set up, to investigate claims that some blood from the hospital’s blood bank was contaminated. It had a mandate to probe into the veracity of the claims, and what might had led to the media circulation of the information.
It was also to access the mode of operations of laboratories in both the KATH and other health facilities with respect to the processing and transporting of blood and blood products for onward transfusing to patients in various facilities.
The Committee was chaired by Dr David Opare Agyepong, from the National Public Health Reference Laboratory and included representatives from the Ministry of Health, National AIDS Control Programme, Ghana Health Service (GHS), National Blood Service (NBS), KATH as well as Officials from public health laboratories.
Dr Owusu-Danso stated that based on the broader investigations and findings, the Committee has made some key recommendations, which include call for the establishment and launch of a clear National Protocol for screening blood for transfusion.
It further recommended that the NBS put in place effective systems for sustained training of all its laboratory personnel and other staff, who handled blood and blood products in health facilities to ensure safety.
The Committee also suggested that all health facilities engaged the services of only qualified personnel, as well as ensure that transportation of blood, and its products were done by well-trained staff to avoid contamination, and public doubts about the quality and safe delivery of services.
Dr Owusu-Danso said the Committee again called for regular checks or inspection of the tools and test kits used by laboratories and ensure that the equipment used were effectively calibrated by the Ghana Standards Authority to ensure quality test outcomes.
It recommended that staff members who were found to be involved in the issue be handed over to the respective regulatory bodies such as the Ghana Medical and Dental Council, Health Facilities Regulatory Agency, Pharmacy Council, Allied Health Professions Council, and the Nursing and Midwifery Councils for appropriate sanctions.
Mr Agyeman Manu commended the Committee for the speedy delivery of the report (about two months) and the quality of it.
He said the Ministry would study the report and see how best to implement the recommendations, in collaboration with the NBS and other key institutions, to help guard the country’s health system.
The Health Minister further said the Ministry would also as early as next week, write to the various Regulatory bodies to take appropriate action against all the culprits involved in the issue.
He warned health staff, who have the habit of referring patients to private health facilities for care and questioning the credibility of service provided in public health institutions to stop, as it was unethical and unprofessional, adding that, they would face severe penalties for their actions.