BD and the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) have set in motion a joint, multi-year initiative to improve blood-collection practices in African clinics and hospitals.
The programme, which is to be carried out through the US Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is designed to protect health workers and patients in countries severely impacted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The initiative ultimately aims to support training for thousands of healthcare workers in sub-Saharan Africa, tracking hundreds of thousands of blood draws a year within each participating country.
The three-year initiative, which may be extended for up to two additional years, is beginning in Kenya under the leadership of the Kenyan Ministries of Health through the National AIDS and STI Control Program.
Through the programme in Kenya and under the leadership of the government of Kenya, Kenyan health workers will be trained as master trainers in safe blood-draw practices.
These master trainers will later lead trainings in regions throughout the country.
Instructors and trainers from the Kenya Medical Training College will participate in the trainings and help to integrate the information from the programme into the college's health-worker training curriculum.
And as part of the initiative, BD is also funding construction of incinerators at two Kenyan sites to improve their medical-waste management.
Combined, these efforts will enhance the goal of the Kenya National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan (KNASP-III) to eliminate HIV transmission in healthcare settings by 2013.
The safer blood-collection initiative helps to train clinical and laboratory personnel in blood-drawing procedures and specimen handling - processes essential to the appropriate management of HIV/AIDS patients.
The initiative helps to ensure specimen quality and minimise exposure to the virus among health workers, by providing treatment in case of accidental exposure.
The programme helps prevent needlestick injuries by establishing or enhancing needlestick injury surveillance, which helps to identify people in need of life-saving post-exposure prophylaxis and correct practices that pose risks to health workers and patients.
Over the past several years, safer blood collection has become increasingly important in sub-Saharan nations and other developing countries with a high incidence of HIV/AIDS.
Access to HIV treatment in these nations has also expanded significantly during this time.
This has led to a large increase in the number of blood collections for HIV screening and monitoring tests.
The initiative, which will expand to include up to four additional PEPFAR-supported countries, is being implemented by PEPFAR through CDC's Global AIDS Program.
As part of their collaboration, PEPFAR and BD are working on the ground with Ministries of Health, national reference laboratories and various implementing partners.
In each participating nation, a technical working group - consisting of the Ministry of Health, CDC and BD - is taking the lead in developing tailored policies, guidelines and standard operating procedures for blood drawing and specimen handling.
Carrying out these plans, a team of US- and Africa-based BD technical personnel who have received specialised training in managing such a far-reaching initiative, will conduct the blood-collection safety educational programme on site.
BD is donating product for this collaboration through its logistical partner, Americares, a nonprofit global health and disaster-relief organisation.
BD and PEPFAR are collaborating on two other programs aimed at improving healthcare systems in sub-Saharan Africa: in October 2007, BD and PEPFAR launched a five-year initiative to improve the quality of laboratories in sub-Saharan Africa; and, in October 2008, BD, PEPFAR and the International Council of Nurses announced a three-year, public-private partnership to establish a new Wellness Centre for Healthcare Workers in Kampala, Uganda.