• The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates the pandemic caused a 20% - 30% reduction in blood donations
  • The Head of Dubai’s Blood Donation Centre and WHO expert member for Transfusion Safety, Dr May Raouf, to chair proceedings
  • Medlab Middle East to take place from 24 -27 January

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: According to research from the World Health Organisation (WHO), blood donations were reduced by between 20 – 30% globally during the initial onset of the pandemic. Addressing this decline and educating donors on safe practices will be a key theme of Medlab Middle East when it returns to the Dubai World Trade Centre from 24 – 27 January.

The importance of continued blood donation in a safe environment was highlighted by the recent announcement by the Red Cross, declaring a national blood crisis in the US due to declining blood drives across the country. The organisation, which provides 40% of the United States’ blood, has had less than a one-day surplus of critical blood types and has limited blood product distributions to hospitals.  

As part of Medlab Middle East’s Blood Transfusion Medicine Conference, which takes place live and in person on Thursday 27 January, discussions will centre on topics including donor eligibility criteria with vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals, the challenges of finding a blood donor with the same blood, and a review of methods and indicators for red blood cell transfusions with neonate.

Rejoy Penacerrada, Conference Director for Informa Markets, said: “The onset of COVID-19, and the impact of the various variants associated with the pandemic, has severely impacted blood donations across many countries.

“As part of our commitment to supporting the laboratory industry, blood transfusion will form an integral part of our conference programme this year. A range of experts from the field will outline their findings and provide direction on the best course of action to encourage donors and ensure their safety at every point of the donation journey.”

Leading the conference is Dr May Raouf, Head & Medical Director, Dubai Blood Donation Centre, Pathology & Genetics Department, Expert Member for Transfusion Safety, WHO, Regional Director for Eastern Mediterranean Region, ISBT, Dubai. 

During the track, a dedicated session will focus on donors and donations with Dr Ranjita Sharma, Head of Medical Care Unit, Dubai Health Authority, providing an insight into the Donor Eligibility Criteria during pandemics and the lesson learned. Joining Dr Sharma will be Gavin Evans, Executive Director of the Global Blood Fund, based in London, who will take a deep dive into donor education and recruitment.

In the UAE, a range of measures was introduced during the height of the pandemic, including the postponement of non-essential surgeries to prioritise critical health issues. The country has also introduced frozen blood cell technology allowing blood units and rare blood groups to be saved and used for emergencies and disasters.  These practices have been complemented by ongoing blood donation education throughout the healthcare sector.  

“The international community has learnt several lessons during the pandemic, which is of course ongoing. These have centred on the continuous flow of information regarding the pandemic at a local and international level from local health authorities; ensuring an updated registered blood donor database is in place; the use of social media by blood facilities to educate the public about the need for donations; ensuring a well-structured business continuity plan is in place; and finally, knowledge sharing at a regional and international level,” concluded Penacerrada. 

In addition to blood transfusion, discussions surrounding opportunities and challenges within the laboratory industry will take place across nine CME accredited multi-disciplinary conferences, including lab management, histopathology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, molecular & genomic diagnostics, haematology and a dedicated COVID-19 track, plus online-only conference, Future of Lab.

Coinciding with Arab Health, Medlab Middle East will take place from 24 - 27 January at the Dubai World Trade Centre and is set to attract a range of key laboratory and trade professionals from across the region for the live and in-person event.

The event will feature keynote speeches and scientific lectures, industry briefings, product demonstrations and networking opportunities, as well as a series of pre-arranged one-to-one meetings, with an emphasis on creating lasting relationships. A virtual showcase of Medlab Middle East will take place from 5 January to 28 February.

As part of Informa's commitment to providing the highest hygiene and safety levels, the 2022 edition of Medlab Middle East will again take place under the protocols introduced via the company’s Informa AllSecure health and safety mandate. The enhanced measures include 35 guidelines covering all aspects of cleaning and hygiene, social distancing measures, and the use of PPE, screening, and a track and trace in conjunction with local authorities.

For more information, please visit www.medlabme.com

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