Ghana has still not been able to achieve the 100 per cent voluntary blood donation status as required by the World Health Organisation (WHO), despite the various interventions over the years to achieve the target.
Dr Samuel Asiamah, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital, at the commemoration of the 2018 World Blood Donor Day in Accra on Thursday, said the need for blood was increasing in all parts of the world, and Ghana was no exception.
However statistics from the WHO indicates that only 62 countries globally get close to a 100 per cent of their national blood supplies from voluntary unpaid blood donations, with thirty four others still dependent on family replacement blood donors.
He said Ghana was however not one of these 62 countries, a situation which needed concerted efforts by all stakeholders to urgently address the loose ends of policy and programmes aimed at investing in the sustenance of blood donations, and ensuring the availability of safe blood and blood products in the banks, to save lives.
Hence as Ghana joined the global community to commemorate Day, on the theme: “Be There for Someone Else. Give Blood. ShareLife”, a call has been made to all Ghanaians to commit to regular voluntary unpaid blood donations, to improve access to safe and adequate and other components of the commodity.
Ms Tina Mensah, the Deputy Minister of Health said there was the need to away from the family replacement system of blood donation and redouble efforts to attain the 100 per cent voluntary blood donation target set by the WHO to be achieved the year 2020.
She said it was unfortunate that raising awareness on the need to donate blood had still not yielded the desired result.
However the government, through the Ministry, was committed to attaining the target by prioritising the passage of the National Blood Service Bill, to provide the requisite legal framework to accelerate progress towards its achievement.
Ms Mensah pledged the Ministry’s commitment to strengthen the institutional capacity of the NBS to deliver on its mandate of ensuring availability of safe and adequate blood and blood products for patients in both public and private health institutions.
“To this end, I urge Management and staff of the National Blood Service to re-double their efforts and adopt innovative approaches to encourage more individuals and corporate organisations to undertake voluntary blood donation activities on regular basis,” she said.
He said strategies would target young people, and use them to recruit others to become donors.
The Day which was instituted by the World Health Assembly falls on June 14 annually to thank the anonymous voluntary unpaid blood donors, and encourages all other persons to donate more so long as they had the strength to do so, and to further ensure an improvement in safety, adequacy and availability of National Blood supplies for patients suffering from life-threatening conditions.
This, he said would propel the country’s efforts towards the attainment of Universal Health Coverage, especially in the area of Maternal and Child health care.
Dr Justina Kordai Ansah, the Chief executive of the National Blood Service, affirmed the commitment of her outfit, to sustain the campaign for 100 per cent voluntary blood donation to improve access to safe and adequate blood supplies for effective transfusion.
She said the theme sent clear signals to all citizens on the need for committed, year-round blood donations, in order to maintain adequate supplies and achieve national self-sufficiency of blood, and urged Ghanaians to focus their attention on giving blood as an expression of community participation in the health system, to meet the never ending demands for blood.
She therefore called for an effective nationally- coordinated Blood Service, and a sustained voluntary unpaid blood donation system, underlined with fundamental human values of altruism, respect, empathy and kindness.
Ghana collected a total of 162,226 units of blood in 2017, of which only 36 per cent were given by voluntary unpaid blood donors, with the remaining 64 per cent coming from family replacement donors.
However, since the family replacement blood donation system did not cater for patients in emergencies, there must be improved sufficiency of the commodity in the blood bank to cater for emergency situations, she said.
Dr Ansah said the Service however welcomed the government’s intervention in improving blood supply to many inaccessible community health facilities across the country during emergencies through the use of drone services, as recently announced by the Vice President, Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia.
“We believe this intervention is timely and appropriate as it comes at a time the World Health Assembly Resolution is recognising the importance of voluntary blood donation on the global health agenda at the highest level.
Dr Owen Kaluwa, the WHO Country Representative, urged the Ministry of Health to put in place systems to strengthen the NBS to ensure universal access to blood transfusion services, pledging the sustained commitment of his outfit to efforts for ensure sustainable funding for blood services.
Voluntary blood donors were awarded for their selfless contributions to saving lives.