New Initiative to Advance Health Workers' Blood Collection Skills

Tanzania Government and Partners Launch Multi-Year Training Program

Sep 05, 2012, 08:00 ET from BD-Becton Dickinson

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Sept. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Tanzania healthcare workers will learn improved phlebotomy and blood drawing practices through a new initiative led by the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in partnership with the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company). Jhpiego, a technical assistance partner for the MoHSW, will join in the efforts to manage and scale up these improved services.

The Tanzania Initiative for Blood-Drawing Applications (TIBA) aims to improve overall healthcare and laboratory services in health facilities, especially those in the regions with a high burden of HIV/AIDS. Drawing blood from patients' veins using a needle and syringe is one of the most commonly performed medical procedures in hospitals and clinics, though there are risks associated with this procedure.  A 2008 survey conducted in 14 Tanzanian health institutions found that needle pricks (52.9 percent) and splash of blood from patients (21.7 percent) were common among healthcare workers. Given the prevalence of the blood-drawing procedure – approximately 1,500,000 drawings per year in Tanzania -- it is vital that clinicians take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their patients from blood borne infections, such as HIV, resulting from accidental pricking, stabbing or scratching with equipment that has been used to collect blood.

Under this two-year program, BD will provide training on blood-drawing practices, specimen handling and safety measures to prevent needle stick injuries, thereby improving safety for both patients and health workers. Elements of the program include:

  • BD associates will train 20 local health workers as master trainers in safe blood drawing practices. These master trainers will then lead trainings in regions throughout the country. The program ultimately aims to train at least 500 healthcare workers in Tanzania.
  • Helping ensure specimen quality and minimize exposure to the HIV virus among health workers by providing treatment in case of accidental exposures.
  • Helping prevent needle stick injuries by establishing needle stick injury surveillance, which helps to identify people in need of life-saving, post-exposure prophylaxis.
  • Correct practices that pose risk to health workers and patients.

Participating sites include Amana Regional Referral Hospital, Bugando Consultant Hospital, Iringa Regional Referral Hospital, Lindi Regional Referral Hospital, Mbeya Consultant Hospital, Muhimbili Orthopedic Institute, Singida Regional Referral Hospital, Tabora Regional Referral Hospital, Bombo Tanga Regional Referral Hospital and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre.

"This collaboration comes at an appropriate time as the Quality Assurance Directorate of the Tanzania Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, through the Health Services Inspectorate and Quality Assurance Section, is finalizing the National Phlebotomy Guidelines for Quality and Safe Health Care Services and the National Injection Safety Devices Policy Guidelines," said Minister of Health and Social Welfare Hon. Dr. Hussein A. Mwinyi. "Safe blood drawing is an area that requires much improvement and BD will help strengthen our efforts by developing phlebotomy curriculum and guidelines."

"The PEPFAR partnership has demonstrated much success in Kenya and Zambia to date," said Dr. Koku Kazaura, Acting HIV-Prevention Branch Chief of CDC. "After our team experienced the trainings first hand in Kenya, we were very eager to engage in this partnership to create a program that addresses our own country's needs."

"Safe blood sample procedures are important for accurate diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and diseases," said Renuka Gadde, Vice President, Global Health, BD. "BD's training efforts in Tanzania will help healthcare workers protect themselves against unnecessary needle stick injuries and possible disease exposure while also helping improve the blood samples. We look forward to working with the Tanzanian government in developing standards and processes that will help protect healthcare workers and improve patient outcomes."

"As the number of healthcare services increases in Tanzania," added Natalie Hendler, Infection Project Director, Jhpiego Tanzania, "we need to ensure that quality is maintained. This initiative will help guarantee that blood draws and phlebotomy are being done in a standardized and high-quality manner across Tanzania."

"It is critical that these programs support the master trainers to develop a cadre of fully-skilled health care workers capable of safe blood drawing practices," said Brian Rettmann, PEPFAR-Tanzania Country Coordinator. "PEPFAR recognizes that human resources are vital to creating sustainable, country-owned systems."

Over the past several years, safe blood collection has become increasingly important in sub-Saharan nations and other developing countries with high incidences of HIV/AIDS. Access to HIV treatment in these nations has also expanded significantly during this time. This has led to a substantial increase in the number of blood collections for HIV screening and monitoring tests.

Tanzania is the third country to participate in this global public-private partnership, first launched in Kenya in June 2010 followed by Zambia in 2011. Since 2010, the program has reached over 2,000 additional health workers in over 30 health facilities throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Results to-date show greatly improved blood-drawing knowledge and skills, reductions in improper practices and higher levels of healthcare worker confidence.

The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the U.S. Government initiative to support partner nations around the world in responding to HIV/AIDS. It was launched in 2003, and is the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease internationally in history. Through PEPFAR, the U.S. Gov­ernment has committed approximately $46 billion to bilateral HIV/AIDS programs, the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and bilateral TB programs through Fiscal Year 2012. This Initiative supports partner countries in improving health outcomes through strengthened health systems, with a particular focus on improving the health of women, newborns and children through programs that address a range of health issues. For more information, please visit

About CDC
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is America's premier health promotion, prevention, and preparedness agency and a global leader in public health. CDC is at the forefront of public health efforts to prevent and control infectious and chronic diseases, injuries, workplace hazards, disabilities, and environmental health threats. The agency is globally recognized for conducting research and investigations and for its action-oriented approach to public health. CDC's Division of Global HIV/AIDS (DGHA) provides critical leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS in resource-constrained countries by assisting partner governments to strengthen laboratory, epidemiology, surveillance, public health evaluation and workforce capacity-essential components for strong sustainable public health systems. For more information, please visit                                                        

About BD
BD is a leading global medical technology company that develops, manufactures and sells medical devices, instrument systems and reagents. The Company is dedicated to improving people's health throughout the world. BD is focused on improving drug delivery, enhancing the quality and speed of diagnosing infectious diseases and cancers, and advancing research, discovery and production of new drugs and vaccines. BD's capabilities are instrumental in combating many of the world's most pressing diseases. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, BD employs approximately 29,000 associates in more than 50 countries throughout the world. The Company serves healthcare institutions, life science researchers, clinical laboratories, the pharmaceutical industry and the general public. For more information, please visit

About Jhpiego
Jhpiego (pronounced "ja-pie-go"), is an international non-profit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University. For 40 years, Jhpiego has empowered front-line health workers by designing and implementing effective, low-cost, hands-on solutions to strengthen the delivery of health care services for women and their families. Jhpiego works to break down barriers to high-quality health care for the world's most vulnerable populations.  For more information, go to

Jamie Yacco
Public Relations
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SOURCE BD-Becton Dickinson