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Friday, September 07, 2007

Russia: The Land of Tainted Blood

The Moscow Times reports that not only is Putin's Russia's blood supply egregiously tainted, it's running out of even that shoddy supply. More proof that Russia is a backwards, third-world state that doesn't belong on the G-8 or UN Security Council.

The country does not have enough blood to meet its emergency needs, while blood donated in the country is up to 1,000 times more likely to pass on diseases than in the European Union, according to a leaked federal health inspection service memo.

Russia is not prepared for "civil and military emergency situations requiring donated blood," and the risks of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other infections transmitted through transfusions is from 500 to 1,000 times higher than in the EU, said the memo from the Federal Health and Social Development Inspection Service, which was obtained by Kommersant.

Russians donate blood at a rate half that of Europeans, and the number of names on the country's donor register has fallen from 4 million to 1.8 million over the last 10 years. Over the same period, there have been 65 cases of HIV infection from blood transfusions, the document said.

Inspection service spokesman Alexei Sapkin said he could not comment on internal memos, but that the situation was critical and the entire blood transfusion system needed to be brought up to international standards. The problem is less a lack of donors than the general state of medicine in the country, said Yevgeny Zhiburt, chief blood therapist at the National Surgery Center. He said 24 units of blood were used per 1,000 people in Russia, compared with a figure of 109 per 1,000 in the United States, indicated that many more complicated surgical procedures are being performed there. The system for distribution of blood and different blood components is also a problem. Zhiburt said 20 percent of all red blood cell units end up going unused. Alexei Maschan, head of the Hematology Department of the Russian Children's Clinical Hospital, said this was largely because there was no centralized database allowing blood to be used more effectively. "There is no logical system of blood preparation and usage in the country," he said. The lack of a centralized system also contributes to the problem of blood safety. In the Netherlands, for example, there is one central laboratory that tests blood for diseases. Zhiburt said the number in Russia was 600, and many of these laboratories were still working with obsolete equipment.

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