ONE OF the perks of being a medical technology intern in a public hospital is that you are updated with the latest developments in the health sector of the country. In fact, during one of my hospital duties in December last year, I myself was tasked to bring news to some hospitals in Metro Manila that a policy of centralizing blood banks will soon be implemented.

Centralization of blood banks means that a hospitals’ blood supply would come from a single source. Instead of procuring blood from their own supplies (taken from blood drives or walk-in donors), they would have to get it from the Philippine National Red Cross for private hospitals, or Philippine Blood Coordinating Council (PBCC) for public hospitals. Thus, hospitals in the country would receive rations of blood units based on estimated requirements.

Upon hearing this, the first thing that came to my mind was its benefits. It would be beneficial for hospitals since they would not have to search their stash for blood units of a certain blood type (especially rare ones). They’ll just contact the centralized supplier if they run out of that particular blood supply. As an intern whose tasks include entertaining communication from inside and outside the hospital, I have bear witness to hospitals, both public and private, seeking available blood from our hospital. If blood banks are centralized, however, this problem will significantly be minimized since hospitals will only have to request for additional blood from either the Red Cross or the PBCC. Other problems, such as expired and unused blood going to waste, will also be lessened because distribution of blood will be according to a hospital’s needs

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Because blood collection will only be limited to the two institutions, centralization will standardize the criteria for accepting and deferring blood donors. Before, hospitals have their own policies in accepting donors. Some hospitals, like UST Hospital, do not accept tattooed donors while others accept them only after a certain period since getting the tattoo, thus generating confusion among blood donors who tend to donate blood to different hospitals. Having only two institutions that will accept donors would mean they will have the final say as to who are qualified for donation.

However, some problems do come to mind. The first one is the availability of blood supply. The two institutions would have to be well-stocked with supplies to sustain the country’s demand for blood. If they run out of blood supply, how will they be able to cater to the country’s needs, especially during emergency cases? Also, wouldn’t it be time-consuming if a blood donor would have to go through either of the two institutions just to have his or her blood collected, instead of the old policy where the blood goes directly to the hospital where the patient is admitted?

I hope this concern would be addressed before the guidelines for implementation are released. For now, it is still early to determine whether this centralization will be a boon or bane. As Dr. Antonia Raymundo, head of the clinical pathology department of USTH said, we should see what happens first when centralization is implemented, before resisting it.

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