The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Blood Service, Dr. Justina Ansah has revealed that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, voluntary blood donation in the country has dropped from thirty-three (33) per cent in 2019 to seventeen (17) per cent in 2020.
“The Covid-19 pandemic brought with it unprecedented challenges to the collection and processing of blood transfusion. It deepened the gap between blood collection and the estimated national blood requirement”. – Dr. Justina Ansah
To mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Blood Service activated its emergency transfusions and plans to “maintain enough stocks of blood and blood products for emergency transfusions and also to minimize risk of community spread of Covid-19 through blood donation activities”.
The CEO of the National Blood Service, Dr. Justina Ansah further assured the public of precautionary measures in place to prevent community spread of Covid-19 during blood donation.
“We will continue to monitor the implementation of these measures to ensure strict compliance for safety of our blood donors, health workers, and recipients of blood and blood components”.
Consistent with international best practice as advocated by the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Blood Service Bill has been passed into law.
Dr. Justina Ansah is optimistic that with the new National Blood Service Act, 2020 (Act 1042), there will be an improvement in blood safety and adequacy in health facilities that provide blood transfusion therapy in the country.
Delivering the keynote address at an event to commemorate this year’s World Blood Donor Day, the Technical Coordination Directorate at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Martha Gyansa-Lutterodt emphasized the need for every healthy person within the ages of 17-60years whether male or female to donate blood regularly to save a child with severe anaemia from malaria, malnutrition or sickle cell disease.
“In addition, the lives of mothers with severe bleeding after delivery, victims of road traffic accidents with excessive bleeding from their wounds and those going for major surgeries can be saved. Those who for one reason or the other cannot donate can serve as volunteers in recruiting voluntary blood donors”.
Dr. Martha Gyansa-Lutterodt tasked the National Blood Service to ensure “the timely access to safe blood and blood products to prevent needless deaths”.
“The Ministry of Health is considering setting aside a day for mass blood donation exercise to help save lives of patients in the country’s hospitals”. She added
The World Health Organization (WHO) Ghana representative, Dr. Francis Chisaka Kasolo revealed that as part of the Covid-19 response, 10 African countries including Ghana are investigating the use of Covid-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) therapy as part of treatment regimen.
Dr. Francis Chisaka Kasolo said over the past year, blood stocks decreased in the African Region as movement restrictions and fears of infection hindered people from accessing donation sites.
“The average blood donation rate dropped by 17 per cent and the frequency of blood drives reduced by 25 per cent, demand for blood also decreased by 13 per cent with the suspension of routine surgeries in some countries and fewer people seeking care in health facilities”.
He urged the government and the Ministry of Health to collaborate with blood donor associations and non-governmental organizations to put in place systems and infrastructure needed to increase the collection of blood from voluntary donors.
“This is as critical as adequate supplies of safe blood can only be assured through regular, voluntary, unpaid donations”.
World Blood Donor Day is celebrated on 14 June each year to raise awareness, globally, of the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion. The occasion also highlights the critical contribution that voluntary unpaid blood donors make to the health delivery system.
This year’s celebration is under the theme “Safe Blood Saves Lives” with the slogan “Give blood and keep the world beating”.