Ghana has become the second country in Africa, after Lesotho to launch a Blood Safety Information System (BSIS).
The BSIS is an open source information system designed to manage donor and blood safety information from the point of donor registration to donation collection, through to laboratory testing, component processing and labelling, storage, and distribution to hospitals and clinics.
The BSIS project was established by the National Blood Service Ghana (NBSG) in collaboration with the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the Safe Blood for Africa Foundation and Jembi Health Systems PNC, a South African-based not-for-profit organisation.
Inherent in BSIS’s design is the capability to exclude blood donors based on HIV status and track blood donor infectious disease testing results to ensure adequate linkage to care and treatment services.
The BSIS also builds the capacity of health practitioners to manage information related to blood services, improve blood centre laboratory quality and facilitate movement of the NBSG towards accreditation through the African Society of Blood Transfusion.
Since 2010, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR) has invested approximately $ 1.7 million in strengthening blood safety services in Ghana.
With this support, the NBSG has significantly improved the quality of blood services in Ghana.
From 2010 to 2016 NBSG increased annual blood collections from 140,000 units to more than 160,000 units and decreased the prevalence of HIV seropositive blood donations to a low of 1.2 per cent.
The BSIS centre was inaugurated on Friday at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra jointly by Mrs Tina Mensah, Deputy Minister of Health and Mr Robert P. Jackson, the US Ambassador.
Mrs Mensah said the Ministry believed in synergy of partnership and alliances in the provision of universal health care.
She said the Ministry would continue to create the congenial environment for potential partners to work in concert in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal.
She therefore, hailed the US for its continuous support to Ghana, especially in the area of health.
“The Ministry’s commitment is moving such programmes forward whilst championing the use of technologies in health systems across the country.
“It is therefore, our hope that the National Blood Service would mount effective implementation strategy to support the safe and sustainable implementation of this tool across the entire country.
“I wish to take this opportunity to appeal to the public to support voluntary blood donation exercise to enable the National Blood Service achieve 100 per cent voluntary unpaid donations by the end of 2020,” she added.
Mr Jackson said: “We can achieve an AIDS-free generation. Today, with the launch of BSIS, we are one step closer to that goal.
“Safe blood transfusion helps prevent transmission of HIV and increase the overall health of this nation.
“Safe, reliable blood saves lives- the life of a mother after childbirth, the life of an accident victim, the life of a patient undergoing surgery.
“We partner with Ghana because we both benefit when Ghana succeeds. Healthy Ghanaians can go to work, they can go to school, they can contribute to Ghana‘s growth and stability.
“A stable, thriving Ghana benefits Ghanaians, provides leadership on the continent and contributes to global growth and stability,” he added.
Dr Justina Kordai Ansah, Chief Executive Officer, NBSG, said the BSIS would assist the Service to effectively manage information on blood donors and donated blood components from the point of blood collection, through testing and processing, to the point of issue to hospitals for patients receiving blood transfusion.
She noted that the BSIS would be useful across the blood safety value chain, from blood donor recruitment, retention and selection, as well as blood collection, testing, processing and distribution to hospitals blood banks.
Dr Ansah said the NBSG had plans to gradually and eventually implement BSIS in all Area Blood Centres and sub-centres across Ghana.
Mr Carl Fourie, Senior Programme Manager, Jembi Health System NPC lauded the team that executed the Ghana BSIS project.
“Show your love to your neighbour, by donating blood today,” he said.