A systematic review of transfusion-transmissible infections among blood donors and associated safety challenges in Pakistan

Hamid Ehsan, Ahsan Wahab, Muhammad Ammar Shafqat, Muhammad Khawar Sana, Farhan Khalid, Syed Maaz Abdullah, Ali Jaan, Muhammad M. Sheikh, Ahmad Muneeb, Sajid Ehsan, Ali Younas Khan, Raheel Iftikhar, Faiz Anwer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The blood transfusion (BT) system in Pakistan is fragmented, demand-driven and depends on weakly regulated transfusion practices. There is a considerable possibility that transfusion-transmissible infections (TTIs) are contributing to the current epidemic of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) (affecting 7.4% of the general population) in the country. To study this issue, we conducted a systematic review to identify articles related to TTIs and transfusion safety in Pakistan from January 1, 2010 to January 31, 2020. A review of 33 articles met the final criteria for qualitative synthesis. Analysis of these studies showed a cumulative frequency of HBV 2.04%, HCV 2.44%, HIV 0.038%, syphilis 1.1% and malaria 0.11%. The frequency of coinfections among blood donors varied from 0.0099% to 0.35%. The highest number of coinfections were HCV and syphilis, followed by HCV and HBV infections. Syphilis and malaria were tested in only 38% and 46% of all the blood donations in one study. The rate of voluntary non-remunerated donations (VNRDs) was less than 13%, and male donors were 95% to 100% in these studies. There was a significant difference in the frequency of HBV and HCV in VNRDs (0.48%) as compared to replacement donors (RDs) (4.15%). In short, this review shows a high frequency of TTIs, especially HBV, HCV and syphilis in the blood donor population in Pakistan. There is a high dependency on RDs, minimal use of healthy voluntary blood donation practices, inadequate screening of high-risk donors, repeated collections of the blood from RDs, poor quality of screening methods and limited knowledge of donor health. Without standardized safe transfusion practices, there will be an ongoing increase in transmission of TTIs, especially HBV, HCV, syphilis, and HIV leading to a significant adverse public health impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-420
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Blood Medicine
StatePublished - 2020


  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Malaria
  • Syphilis
  • Transfusion-transmitted infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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