The Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) on Tuesday announced the start of use of Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) for the screening of blood to be supplied to patients.
The NAT is said to be the safest method to protect people from blood-transmitted viral diseases, including Hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS.
“Dow University has become the first public-sector institution whose blood bank has started providing the safest blood to patients after screening it through Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) to prevent patients from blood-borne diseases, including Hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS,” Vice Chancellor Prof Saeed Quraishy told a news conference at Ojha Campus.
DUHS Lab Director Dr Shaheed Sharafat, Dr Shaheen Kauser and other officials were also present on the occasion, who briefed media about the benefits of the NAT in ensuring safe blood transfusion to patients.
Nucleic Acid Testing is a latest technique using real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), which amplifies the DNAs and RNAs of the pathogens, including Hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV/AIDS, which cannon be detected in the initial stages of the infection in the blood through conventional methods.
Dr Saeed Quraishy said Pakistan was among the top countries where blood-borne infections were on the rise due to unsafe blood transfusions and most of the patients were getting viral hepatitis and HIV/AIDS infections as a result.
“Keeping in view the safety of the patient, DUHS decided to invest in the NAT testing so that first time in Pakistan, poor patients visiting the public sector hospital could be provided NAT screened blood for transfusion.”
To a query, Dr Quraishy said the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority (SBTA) was an independent institution, which had its own protocols and it would have to decide what to do to
ensure safe blood transfusions at public and private hospitals in the province.
Dr Sharafat said their lab was running on a no-profit, no-loss basis and despite the huge cost incurred on the NAT, blood products would be provided at highly subsidised rates to patients as compared to blood banks of other hospitals in Pakistan.