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Cost of Blood in Bali Set to Rise

Rumors of an End to HIV Screen Subsidies from the Department of Health May Mean More Costly Blood for Bali Patients.

(9/6/2008) The people who manage Bali's Blood Transfusion Center have received the worrying news that government subsidies that pay for the HIV screening of blood donations may soon be withdrawn by the Department of Health. Although a formal letter advising of the end of the HIV screening subsidies has yet to be delivered to the Bali Blood Transfusion Center, the rumors have caused grave concerns that the cost of blood from the Bali Blood Bank could soon increase dramatically.

As quoted in the Bali Post, Dr. A.A. Gde Sudewa Djelantik, the Head of the Bali Blood Transfusion Center, said: "Although we have not received a confirmation on whether the subsidy will be withdrawn or not, we continue to hope that we will receive sufficient advance warning. No changes should be suddenly announced, allowing us time to prepare adequately."

The current subsidy for HIV screening from the Department of Health covers the cost of reagents for 30,000 pouches of blood distributed by the Center each year. Djelantik warned: "HIV screening absolutely must be done. This is especially true in light of the increasingly high rate of HIV infections in Bali."

Aside from the issue of subsidies, there is the ongoing problem of the uncertainty of delivery for HIV reagents, with new supplies needed every 15 days at the Bali Blood Transfusion Center.

In addition to the needed reagent, the Department of Health also provides rapid test kits for the detection of HIV. Djelantik said that rapid testing was not popular in Bali due to the unreliability of results. The normal screening process requires 2 hours and is assumed produce results that are highly accurate.

The highly-respected head of Bali's modern blood bank, Djelantik said there were three screening units in current operation at his Center. He worried: "While we are able to handle a normal day's work load, I am worried what will happen without the subsidies if Bali suffers a disaster."

Djelantik said that in accordance with government regulations there has been no increase in the cost of blood in Bali since 2004, but he feared that if the current subsidies are withdrawn the Center will be compelled to increase the cost of blood to the public.