Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Blood bureaucracy makes no bloody sense

Published:Saturday | February 21, 2015 | 12:00 AM

At some point in our future, we are going to have to get sensible if we are ever going to climb out of the hole we are in.

I am a veterinarian, and recently, someone who is emigrating from Jamaica came to our clinic to do the necessaries to be able to ship his dogs to the country to which he is emigrating.

The country requires that a few cubic centimetres of serum taken from their dogs is tested in a laboratory in that country, before the dogs arrive, to be sure that the dogs are free of certain specified diseases. This is where the fun begins.

At our veterinary hospital, we prepared four test tubes with 3cc of serum in each of them for export by FedEx. The documentation clearly states 'canine serum for diagnostic evaluation'. At FedEx, an agent said that there might be a problem, as just a few days earlier, Jamaica Customs, at the airport, had rejected a similar shipment that contained a tube with blood, as a licence was required from the Trade Board.

I thought there must be a mistake, as the 12cc of blood was going out of Jamaica and it was from a dog. What national imperative could require the export of a few cc of dog blood to be licensed?

My assistant called the Trade Board and was told that one of the 20 items subject to export licensing was 'plasma' under HS Heading 30.02. My assistant continued to tell the representative at the Trade Board that our 12 cc of 'blood' was of animal origin and was actually serum, and not plasma. The Trade Board representative went away and returned to say that our samples of animal serum were not subject to licensing and we could proceed.

The FedEx representative communicated this with Customs, but the Customs export supervisor said that the package was going nowhere until she received an original letter from the Trade Board, and that was that. The package is on its way back to us.




What I find difficult to stomach is the way our officials often find ways to pervert and misrepresent the normal bureaucratic requirements of government.

Some time ago, for some very rational reason, somebody decided to make human plasma subject to export licensing. I do not know why, but let us assume it was for a good reason. Then one day, some officious person in Customs, who is not competent to do so, decided that plasma equals whole blood. (Plasma is just one component of blood).

The next day another equally officious person decided that if plasma equals blood, the export of plasma, platelets, serum, buffy coat, red blood cells should also require a licence. Then, someone else thought, why just human blood? Make it blood from anything! Dog blood, horse blood, fish blood, cockroach blood ... all blood! Every form of fluid that is in a vein of anything that is alive is going to require a licence!

And this is how sensible laws become senseless hindrances to national development. It also can be dangerous, too. For example, if a doctor is treating a critically ill patient and needs a blood test done abroad, he must first get a licence from the Trade Board (which requires an approval letter from the Ministry of Health). And laboratories that send thousands of blood samples abroad for testing each year must get thousands of licences from the Trade Board and thousands of approval letters from the Ministry of Health.

This type of officious madness is repeated in all areas of government business so it is no wonder that we have thousands of government employees that we cannot pay and an economy that cannot go anywhere because it is being strangled every day by all sorts of crazy laws that were never meant to be implemented the way they are implemented today.



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