Creation of the first Transfusion Center in Sierra Leone


Sierra Leone
Cooperation years:
GSD Participants:
San Raffaele Transfusion Center and experts
Host country's participants:
Sierra Leone Ministry of Health
Italian Agency for Development Cooperation
Implementing agency:
Other partners:
San Raffaele Hospital

Project Aim

General objective: Ensure the accessibility to blood and safe derivative products for patients in need, particularly women, nursing mothers, infants and children.
Specific objective: Improve transfusion services and ensure the availability of blood, with priority to the Freetown area.

Background of the Project

At the start of the project, there was no centrally coordinated blood transfusion service in Sierra Leone. Thus, the construction and start-up of a National Blood Transfusion Centre in Freetown was designed to be the starting point for strengthening this service at national level. The Project was designed to lower the maternal mortality rate in the country, which was one of the highest in the world with over 3,000 women dying each year mainly (46% of cases) due to haemorrhage during labour and childbirth. Moreover, it has as objective to increase by at least 15% the availability of safe blood for the treatment of anaemia in children and in cases of severe trauma This initiative was strongly desired by the Presidency of the Republic tp strengthen the national transfusion service to directly benefit the 7 million inhabitants of Sierra Leone.This project is funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS).

Objectives achieved

The Transfusion Center at Princess Christian Maternity Hopital (PCMH) was built and inaugurated in Freetown in December 2019. Planned equipment was delivered and installed (refrigerators, professional laboratory counters, centrifuges, platelet stirrer, thermostatic bath, donation chairs complete with accessories, office furniture). AISPO supplied with consumables and reagents (Anti-A/B/AB/D/Phenotypes (C, c, E, e), Anti-Kell, rapid tests for HIV, Hepatitis and syphilis, cannulae, pipettes Pasteur, vacutainer, microscope slides, hemocue cuvettes, single and quadruple blood bags, sanitizing gels, rapid test for malaria, stock cards and other stationery necessary for the laboratory). Production of blood components (plasma, platelets, red blood cells) started in March 2020. A database for blood donor data collection was created and a new software for patients registration is being developed.  An outreach campaign was implemented and 176 donors participated and donated bloods. Four scholarships were sponsored during the project and the sierraleonians scholars were welcomed for one month at the San Raffaele Transfusion center in Milan for the theroetical and on-the-job training. Missions of experts (hospital management, San Raffaele Transfusion Center experts, doctor as Project Manager and laboratorist) were done during the three years. 9 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were developed by transfusion center expert during the first year of the project. Training of 32 laboratory technicians involved in methods of production and review of blood derivatives.

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