Bahrain to Become First Plasma Manufacturer in the Arab World

Published January 12th, 2019 - 07:08 GMT
This means patients suffering from cancer, sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia will no longer have to travel abroad. (Shutterstock)
This means patients suffering from cancer, sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia will no longer have to travel abroad. (Shutterstock)

Bahrain hopes to become the first Arab country to manufacture plasma as a sickle cell society plans to pursue the proposal with the government this year.

The nation has sufficient quantity of quality blood, experience, expertise and infrastructure to venture into plasma manufacturing, according to Sickle Cell Anaemia Patient Care Society chairman Zakreya Al Kadhem.

In the plasma manufacturing process, proteins are separated to create a number of plasma protein therapies.

These therapies are unique, biologic medicines that are either infused or injected into patients to treat a variety of rare, life-threatening, chronic and genetic diseases.

The ambitious project is part of a larger vision of the society which Mr Al Kadhem said would save Bahrain millions of dinars in terms of medical purchases as well as support patients suffering from chronic and genetic diseases in the region.

“The priority of the society in the new year will be to focus on helping Bahrain reach the status of a regional support centre for not only sickle cell disease but other medical conditions as well.

“Manufacturing plasma in Bahrain is a proposal which we aim to pursue seriously with the government.

“If we manage to do this, Bahrain will become the first country in the Arab region to have a plasma manufacturing centre.

“We will be submitting a detailed proposal to the Health Minister soon.

“The centre will not only benefit patients with blood diseases like sickle cell or thalassaemia, but also other chronic diseases like kidney conditions and cancer.”

Mr Al Kadhem pointed out that the centre will add positively to Bahrain’s development in the health sector.

The GDN reported last month that a Genome Testing Unit will soon begin work on detecting and treating hereditary diseases at Salmaniya Medical Complex.

Genetic testing identifies changes in chromosomes, genes or proteins, and can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder.

“There is a major, focused push given to the health sector and joint efforts have brought in changes.

“For example, the number of deaths due to sickle cell anaemia has come down drastically.

“The Genome Testing Unit will be another milestone.

“With the unified GCC medicine purchase system we can also liaise with major manufacturers as we have the buying power and also encourage them to research on the regional requirements.

“All of these are positive things to look forward to in the year and the plasma manufacturing centre will add value to our growth in the health sector.”

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The GDN reported earlier this month that 15 people died from complications arising from sickle cell anaemia last year – the lowest number of fatalities in Bahrain in the last 10 years.

Campaigners credited it to joint efforts between the government and the sickle cell society, as more awareness was raised in the community and the Hereditary Blood Disorder Centre was established in 2014 to cater to around 5,000 registered patients in the country.

“We have enough pure and good quality blood to donate to needy patients in Bahrain, thanks to expat donors, mainly Indians,” added Mr Al Kadhem.

“Currently we buy plasma but we can manufacture our own plasma with sufficient quantity of blood, expertise, experience and infrastructure available in the country.

“Buying cost versus manufacturing will help the country save a lot of money and the centre can also be used to train medics in the region.”

Adding to medical milestones, the GDN reported earlier this month that the first bone marrow transplant in Bahrain was performed last month at the King Hamad University Hospital.

This means patients suffering from cancer, sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia will no longer have to travel abroad.

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