Philippine Blood Coordinating Council annual convention 2022 September
After a two-year hiatus that was imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Blood Coordinating Council (PBCC) held its 38th Annual Convention in a hybrid format that enabled delegates to attend the lectures in person while also allowing those who could not make it face-to-face access the learning sessions virtually. As a response to concerns about the availability, safety and sufficiency of blood with the emergence of COVID-19, the organizing committee chose “Blood Safety and Security: A Call to Sustainability” as its theme for the convention that was conducted at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Quezon City last September 20-22, 2022.
As the designated educational arm of the national blood program, the PBCC fulfilled its mandate by including highly-relevant topics aimed at raising awareness of the need for sustainable blood programmes, robust multisectoral policies, meaningful community-based advocacies, and evidence-based protocols amidst the threat of emerging infectious diseases (IEDs). As demonstrated in the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a looming concern that infectious diseases may continue to present a formidable menace, and relentless pursuance of effective strategies to mitigate their impact on the blood program thus remain vital.
The pre-convention workshops on day 1 featured “Quality Control of Blood Components” by Ms. Diosa P. Caringal from the Philippine Blood Center, and “Donor Counseling” by Dr. Rossanna A. Ditangco, HIV/AIDS Research Group, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. Both speakers emphasized the significance of valuing quality in every step of the blood banking process. PBCC President Mr. Antonio F. Domasian led the opening ceremonies in the afternoon with the traditional ribbon-cutting and tour of exhibits by industry sponsors and partners, which showcased the latest technology in blood banking and transfusion medicine. International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) President Dr. Michael P. Busch delivered the keynote address. He underscored the vital information regarding the emerging trend of infections worldwide, with focus on transfusion transmissible infections (TTIs). He also cited the critical role of hemovigilance in blood transfusion services especially with the persistent menace of EIDs that could lead to another pandemic that is similar to SARS-CoV-2.
The highlight of every convention is the JCP Memorial Lecture, named after the late Dr. Jorge C. Peralta who is widely regarded as a pillar of blood banking in the Philippines. A past president of both the Philippine Society of Pathologists (1991-1993) and the PBCC (1997-1998), Dr. Peralta was described as “a devoted, hardworking, incorruptible and virtuous gentleman” who until his untimely death in 1998 had been an indefatigable bastion of the Council. This year’s awardee is pediatric hematologist-oncologist Dr. Kathyrine B. Pascual who was cited for her role on safe blood transfusion in paediatric cancer patients as well as for her advocacy of providing palliative care among terminally-ill patients. In her talk, Dr. Pascual discussed that despite the continuous improvement of care standards in pediatrics, there are instances when an acceptable quality of life becomes the goal rather than aiming for a cure. She highlighted her lecture with her involvement with Kythe Foundation, a non-profit, non-stock organization aimed towards improving the quality of life among hospitalized children with cancer and other chronic illness. For over 30 years, Kythe is the only foundation in the country that offers the Child Life Program, which has provided psychosocial support to over 11,000 children a year.
Over the next two days, the plenary sessions served as a roadmap towards a greater appreciation for what is currently being done, as well as the possibilities that can be realized in light of the country’s blood banking future. Facilitated by 19 professorial speakers and 12 moderators, the scientific discussions were clustered into the following: Sustaining Standards of Clinical, Practice Amidst Blips in the Blood Supply Session I; Blood Sustainability through Novel Approaches in Donor Recruitment and Retention (Session II); Safety Amidst Blood Inventory Insecurity (Session III); Security and Safety of Self Amidst Unpredictable Times (Session IV); Strengthening Rational Blood Use to Sustain Blood Security Session; Risk Management in Blood Transfusion Practice (Session V); and Revisiting Policies to Sustain Blood Security (Session VI). The overarching theme tying all the discussions contained within it a message of hope for all blood bank and transfusion medicine practitioners in the country. Whether the talks were technical, motivational, or both, there was an evident acknowledgement that the framework of a sustainable blood program has already been laid, and though lingering issues and challenges such as COVID-19 impede its advancement, the positive tone in the presentations during the convention resonated well among the attendees, projecting a shared resilience despite the setbacks of the recent years.
Beyond the scientific sessions, part of what makes every PBCC annual convention an enjoyable event are the socials. The evening of Day 2 saw a very interactive fellowship night that showcased a variety of talents by the delegates. From musicians playing as a band, to videoke artists belting out their favorite tunes, the attendees saw no shortage of impressive and merry entertainment. Prizes for a number of games were also given, much to the satisfaction of the delegates. Overall, the socials provided a welcome avenue for camaraderie, rest and recreation.
With the conclusion of its 38th annual convention, the Philippine Blood Coordinating Council marks another milestone in its continuing quest of advocating for voluntary blood donation, better blood banking and improved transfusion services in the country. On top of its many accomplishments, PBCC President Mr. Antonio F. Domasian reiterated that the vision of making the organization an affiliate member of the ISBT had also been realized, further establishing its foothold in the international blood banking scene. In both his opening and closing remarks, Mr. Domasian highlighted the fact that the act of service is in every PBCC member’s blood – that being a family is what the organization prides itself in – a family that is strong and moves as one, a family that is resilient especially during the hardest of times, a family that, as its name suggests, brings people together under one common goal – achieving blood safety and adequacy at all times.
Read more about the Philippine Blood Coordinating Council (PBCC).
This report was prepared by