ISLAMABAD: A delegation from the UAE has arrived in Pakistan to carry out a feasibility study for a project to set up the first plasma farming facilities in the South Asian country.
Plasma farming technology is a growing field in patient care and clinical medicine. It involves plasma fractionation, the processing of plasma harvested by donors to break it into individual proteins, or plasma fractions.
Protein products derived from human plasma are used — often as the only available option — in the prevention and treatment of life-threatening conditions resulting from trauma, congenital deficiencies, immunologic disorders or infections.
The UAE delegation, which arrived in Pakistan earlier this week, was led by Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al-Maktoum, and included representatives of Hayat Biotech Limited, Emirati artificial intelligence company Group 42, and China’s Sinopharm.
After meeting the delegation, Pakistani Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel told Arab News on Thursday that he hoped the establishment of plasma farming facilities would happen “as early as possible.”
“We have discussed establishing state-of-the-art PFFs in Pakistan which will be the first of its kind as we have fresh frozen plasma extraction, but not farming ability,” Patel said.
Fresh frozen plasma is a blood product made from the liquid portion of whole blood. It is used to treat conditions in which there are low blood clotting factors or low levels of other blood proteins. It may also be used as the replacement fluid in plasma exchange.
Pakistan and the UAE have been working on the PFF project for several months, and a Pakistani delegation had visited the UAE in June, the minister said.
“It is a follow-up visit by the UAE delegation to assess potential, and to conduct a feasibility study for the establishment of PFFs based on World Health Organization’s standards,” he said, adding that blood services in the country were mostly provided by hospital blood banks, with no separation of the plasma processes into production and utilization.
“Very soon,” Patel replied when asked when the PFFs would become operational.
“After the submission of a report by the UAE delegation, we will try to expedite the whole process and would like to start this facility as early as possible,” he said.
“We are thankful to the UAE government as due to their efforts and the personal interest of Sheikh Al-Maktoum, who engaged a consortium of G-42, Sinopharm, Hayat Biotech Limited, and led a delegation for assessment and feasibility study of the project.”
Patel said that the team will visit regional blood centers in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi to evaluate the readiness of the sites for PFFs.
The UAE delegation will submit its report in about two weeks, “and then we will sign an agreement to cover its legal framework.”
Patel said that the facilities would save Pakistan precious foreign exchange by reducing the need to import several expensive medicines.
“No country can sustain without working on plasma farming, as we have to import all the plasma-based medicines, which cost us millions of dollars in foreign exchange,” he said, adding that plasma would also be easily available, especially for thalassemia, hepatitis and cancer patients.
The minister said that Pakistan was also in talks with the UAE to establish a genetic database profiling system to digitalize the Pakistani health system, revamp major hospitals across the country, and help in the modernization of health equipment and staff training.
“The visit was successful,” Rashed Abdulrehman Al-Zamar, deputy head of mission at the UAE Embassy in Islamabad, told Arab News. “The UAE is keen to invest in different sectors of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, especially in the health field.”