All blood donors to be screened
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
The Anti Malaria Campaign (AMC) has an agreement with the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) to prevent the collection of blood from donors who have travelled in countries where malaria is prevalent, for a period of three years, Campaign Director, Dr. Prasad Ranaweera noted.
Dr. Ranaweera, when contacted, said yesterday (2) that the move had been taken in a bid to control the transmission of the parasitic disease following the increase in imported cases of malaria that were being detected. Blood collection of persons who had been infected with malaria had not been carried out for a period of three years before the disease was eliminated with the last case being detected in 2012. Having overcome the mosquito borne disease, the period during which a person could donate blood for transfusion purposes was reduced to three months.
However, preventive measures have been boosted with the comparative increase of imported cases being detected in Sri Lanka. The two Government health bodies have increased the period to three years where blood donations would not be accepted as precautionary measures from persons who have travelled in countries like India, Afghanistan, African countries. He said that many of Sri Lanka’s peace keeping forces too were amongst those who were highly vulnerable to Malaria as they too spent time in some of these countries during peace keeping missions.
In 2019 there were 53 cases of malaria, in 2020 there were 30 imported cases while from January to November 2021 there have been 21, he noted.
Dr. Ranaweera said that in keeping with the AMC’s slogan ‘One missed case may be the beginning of a 1000,’ the Campaign wanted to prevent a possible resurgence of the disease.
Deputy Director of the National Blood Centre (NBC), Dr. Chandani Vithana said that donors given a questionnaire to be filled in which they have to state as to whether they have a history of travel to any of the counties where malaria was still uncontrolled. She said that in strong support on the AMC and its efforts all efforts were made to screen their donors in order to prevent a spread.