|PAHO Director Thanks American Red Cross for Blood Support after Haiti Earthquake|
The Director of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), Dr. Mirta Roses, thanked the American Red Cross for its support in maintaining supplies of blood for transfusions in Haiti after the earthquake that devastated the country in January 2010.
In a letter to the President of the American Red Cross, Gail McGovern, Dr. Roses highlighted the coordination of efforts to ensure an adequate blood supply in Haiti between January 2010 and March 2011. She noted that the Red Cross continued to supply blood to Haiti not only during the emergency period but also for a number of months during the recovery phase.
“On behalf of the Haitian Ministry of Health and the Haitian people, I want to express my endless appreciation to the American Red Cross for its invaluable contribution,” said Dr. Roses.
Haiti has the lowest blood collection rate in the Americas, but it managed to nearly double the number of units it collected each year between 2005 and 2009. Then the January 2010 earthquake destroyed the National Blood Transfusion Center in Port-au-Prince, leaving the country with only 25 percent of its normal capacity to collect, process and store blood for transfusions.
In her letter, Dr. Roses cites the Red Cross’s William Fitzgerald, Senior Advisor, and Debbie Perkins, National Inventory Manager, for coordinating the first delivery of 249 units of red blood cells from the United States to Haiti on 21 January 21 2010 and 350 additional units on 28 January. Overall, 5,130 units were shipped to Haiti between January 2010 and March 2011.
Coordinating these blood supplies required continuous communication between participating organizations in the United States (American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, Blood Centers of America, the National Blood Exchange, PAHO/WHO headquarters) and in Haiti (Ministry of Public Health, PAHO/WHO country office, and the Program for Essential Medicines and Supplies (PROMESS) in Port-au-Prince, managed by PAHO/WHO) to assess local blood needs and the country’s limited capacity for storage and distribution.