Reducing the Cost of a Pint of Blood at Afghanistan’s Central Blood Bank

Reducing the Cost of a Pint of Blood at Afghanistan’s Central Blood Bank

Guest post by Dr. Ahmad Masoud Rahmani

Dr. Ahmad Masoud Rahmani is the National Director of the Afghanistan National Blood Safety and Transfusion Services Directorate, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Dr. Masoud was a participant in the MSH Leadership Development Program offered by the USAID-funded Technical Support to the Central and Provincial Ministry of Public Health project (Tech-Serve) in Afghanistan last year. 

The National Blood Transfusion service in Afghanistan has the responsibility for ensuring that a safe and adequate blood supply is available for all people who need it. This is a free service to all citizens of Afghanistan as mandated by our parliament. Yet to us the costs of providing one pint of blood is very high, about $30 per unit. This includes the cost of consumables, testing of blood, refreshments to blood donors, and the cost of supporting staff and services. For Afghanistan, a country devastated by internal strife and war, this is a very high burden to carry by the Ministry of Public Health.

Where could we find cost savings, in addition to looking for source of funding, so that we could continue to provide this essential service to our people? This was the challenge we picked as a focus of our leadership project when we participated in a Leadership Development Program offered by MSH’s Tech-Serve Project in 2010.

Thanks to the existence of a database that tracks our costs, we were able to identify where we could save money and be more economical in our activities. We decided to streamline and consolidate our processes for ordering and managing supplies of reagents and other consumable materials in order to realize cost savings.  We did this by developing a fixed term (two year) contract for supplies and consumables so we could get better terms and conditions from our vendors. In the past these contracts were for six months only. We also negotiated that the successful vendor stagger delivery of these supplies at three month intervals. Not only will this reduce the burden of receiving and storing the materials but it also reduces the risk of wastage due to expiration dates.

Encouraged by this measurable result that has reduced the complete cost of a pint of blood to about $27, we continue to look for other ways to reduce the cost of our operations so that we can continue this critical service to our people at a price that we can afford.