Cyprus is “far ahead” in ensuring the quality and safety of blood provided to patients, according to Head of the Blood Centre, Androulla Panayiotou said on Thursday.

She made these comments in response to a scandal in Britain involving contaminated blood transfusions that led to the deaths of 3,000 people from viruses, mainly hepatitis C and HIV.

Panayiotou explained that Cyprus employs advanced molecular blood testing and chemiluminescence testing, the latest technology in the field.

“We are also helped by the fact that our donors are volunteer blood donors who give blood regularly and are tested all the time. Additionally, we do not pay for donations, which helps avoid attracting donors motivated solely by financial gain,” she explained.

Panayiotou said that there has also been an inspection this year by the European Commission, which commended Cyprus for the latest methods used for blood testing.

“There are quality checks, there are also checks by foreign laboratories, we have ISO accreditation, we are very much ahead in terms of quality,” she added.

We do everything possible to offer safe products to our patients, all quality checks are done, we have the latest blood testing methods, we have volunteer blood donors who are constantly checked and they come consciously to donate blood to help their fellow people so they are not going to hide anything from us in the interview we give or in the questionnaire they fill out,” she added.

Asked if the donor questionnaire includes a question about receiving transfusions in Britain, Panayiotou confirmed it simply asks if they have ever received a transfusion.

She highlighted that donors who have had transfusions in the UK have been excluded for several years.

“We should thank our volunteer blood donors who respond to our call and that is why we do not have the need to buy blood from overseas or blood derivatives, that carry various risks,” she said.

“Frequent donations from regular donors reduce the possibility of disease transmission to our patients.”

Asked to comment on the scandal in Britain, Panayiotou said that “it seems that there were many oversights and unfortunately there was a cover-up, so the problem was not dealt with in time”.

Panayiotou urged blood donors in Cyprus to continue donating regularly, noting that Cyprus is one of the first countries to have volunteer blood donors.

“As long as we can and keep voluntary blood donation then we have less risk of spreading diseases,” she concluded.