10/15/2008, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Controversy in Sri Lanka over "expired" plasma kits

by Melani Manel Perera
The National Blood Transfusion Service is believed to have used equipment that did not guarantee perfect sterilization, putting the health of patients and donors at risk. Patients' rights activists call for "thorough investigations," and the "denunciation" of any irregularities.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - An uproar has emerged over expired plasma kits, which risk compromising the health of patients who received transfusions, but also of the donors themselves.

"The danger includes the donors as well," emphasizes the lawyer W.A.S. Jayasuriya, leader of the Collective for the Rights of Patients, during a press conference held yesterday in Colombo. Calling for a thorough investigation, the activist announces that the "National Blood Transfusion Service" used "expired" plasma kits, meaning that they did not have a guarantee of "perfect sterilization," which is indispensable for preventing the spread of diseases. At the same time, he asks for a comprehensive campaign to "focus on the health of patients and donors."

Jayasuriya promises "rigorous control" of the national health system, and the "quick denunciation of any irregularities"; he also promises that there will be requests for "written sworn testimonies" from donors, submitted for certification by the national medical council.

"During the last few months through the local media we came to know about the corruption of  using expired plasma kits by the National Blood Transfusion Service attached to our Ministry of Health and also a few more blood banks outside of Colombo," Freddy Gamage, one of the coordinators of the Collective for the Rights of Patients, tells AsiaNews. "This is unacceptable behavior that puts the health of donors and patients at risk."

The activists are calling for "thorough investigations" into who gave blood between March 1 and July 31 this year, before the scandal began to filter through the health system. They have begun to record claims by patients and donors whose health is believed to be in danger because of the use of these kits.

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