Blood transfusion is a life-saving measure: more than 25 million units of blood are transfused per year in Europe and nearly 1 400 blood establishments (BEs) are involved in the supply of blood in Europe on a daily basis.
In the 1980s, the emergence of HIV/Aids brought new focus to the importance of the safety of blood supply. At the time, European Union (EU) blood legislation, in particular its technical provisions, was based upon existing Council of Europe technical standards embodied in the Guide to the preparation, use and quality assurance of blood components (the Blood Guide), which was first published in 1995. EU blood legislation has been paramount in promoting minimum standards among EU member states and beyond.
Today, the European Commission (EC) and the EDQM/Council of Europe acknowledge their respective work in the field of blood since 2010, while continuing to build on each other’s expertise and closely co-ordinating their work to avoid any duplication of effort. To celebrate their 10 years of collaboration in this field, they are holding an online conference entitled “Keeping up with Reality and Quality: A Challenge for European Blood Establishments”, from Tuesday 27 to Thursday 29 October 2020. The fully online format of the conference was decided upon in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This conference will provide an overview of the European regulatory framework and illustrate how these two organisations interact and bring added value. The objective of the virtual conference will also be to provide all stakeholders in the sector with an overview of the programmes aimed at developing a more resilient, effective and sustainable blood supply system in Europe.
It will also cover the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on this sector. Key stakeholders, in particular the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Blood Alliance (EBA), BEs and competent authorities, will present how they have managed to ensure the continuity of the blood supply during the pandemic and elaborate on lessons learnt.
Other topics covered will include the globalisation of the market supply of medical devices, materials and equipment, where the regulatory environment has resulted in a reduced suppliers marketplace for BEs, as well as the impact of the new Medical Devices (MD) and In Vitro Medical Devices (IVD) Regulations and the changing scope of practice of health professionals.
The conference programme has been organised into three-hour segments, scheduled across three days, to ensure the content is tailored to the online format. More than 15 hours of engaging presentations will be offered. The online conferencing system will allow for live interaction with the speakers, and participants will be able to submit questions during each session.