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Health News of Thursday, 22 February 2018


National Blood Service calls for more voluntary donors

The National Blood Service, Ghana (NBSG) on Wednesday said it was unable to reach its 50 percent target of Voluntary Unpaid Blood Donation across the country in 2017.

Dr Justina K Ansah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NBSG said the service was able to achieve only 36 out of the 50 per cent target for voluntary blood donations nationwide.

There was however a slight increase in percentages regarding donations recorded in the Area Blood Centres, from 55 per cent in 2016, to 59 per cent in 2017, out of the target of 70 per cent, while the Increase Blood Collection Index (BCI) per 1,000 population also stood at 6.1 per cent, failing to meet the target of 6.5 per cent in the year under review.

Dr Ansah, who was speaking at the 2017 annual performance review of the NBSG in Accra, admitted that currently the Service was faced with the huge challenge of inadequate blood stock, and urged the public to consider it their civic responsibility to donate voluntarily to change the status quo.

“We need only one per cent of the population of Ghana to voluntarily donate on regular basis and the NBSG would be able to collect sustainable blood stock in all the types to save lives,” he said.

The annual performance review on the theme; “Partnership for 100 per cent Voluntary Unpaid Blood Donation in Ghana,” was to among other objectives, galvanise stakeholder support in enhancing the stock of the commodity, to maintain a sustainable and safe blood supply service to meet the increasing needs of the country.

It further created a platform for stakeholders to access the status of blood services in Ghana, to adopt specific corporate objectives, action plans and strategies for the way forward in 2018.

Dr Ansah said although the Service had improved on its strategies to get more Voluntary Unpaid Blood donors, the percentages had dropped to worrying levels, and explained that the family replacement system was just a stop gap measure, which the service was moving away from.

She said this has accounted for the constant shortages, hence the need to ensure 100 per cent voluntary donations to ensure sustainable supply throughout the country.

She said the perennial blood supply shortages across the country constituted a serious worry, not only to the service, but to all other areas of the health sector.

She attributed the current absence of the spirit of volunteerism among Ghanaians as the major cause, as people still did not see the need to engage in voluntary blood donations to help save lives.

According to her, “not everybody could donate, for this reason the need to partner, as one of the strategies, and everybody playing their role in this regard to ensure the safe supply of blood and its related products.

“We need to make blood available in all the blood groups, so people must donate since blood donated has a shelf life of only 35 days and therefore the need to donate often”.

Dr Ansah said the NBSG would maintain the 2017 target of achieving 70 per cent Voluntary Unpaid Blood donations for 2018.

She said the service would move forward, strengthen partnership with all stakeholders, step-up public education, improve staff capacities to enhance the operations of the service and push for the parliamentary approval of a legal framework to back the current Blood Policy, to aid activities of the blood services.

The Service, she said, was also in talks with the requisite authorities to consider the decoupling of blood supply services, explaining that, currently all such costs were added to the bills of patients that were paid directly to the health facilities, and this has accounted for the indebtedness of the NBSG.

Dr Anastasia Yirenkyi, the Acting Director of the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Directorate, Ministry of Health, representing the Minister, commended the efforts of the NBSG and its partners for the work done so far to save the lives of Ghanaians.

She said despite the numerous contributions and impacts that the Service had made in achieving progress towards addressing the health needs of Ghanaians, there were still some major challenges and therefore the need to join forces and improve upon the collection of blood in all the groups to save more lives.

Dr Yirenkyi said since life was dependent on the quality as well as the quantity of blood being circulated in the human body, the consequences, when standards were lowered, could spell doom for the health of patients.

She said government was committed to provide the necessary logistics and essential human resources, as well as funding, to ensure the achievement of the target of 100 per cent Voluntary Unpaid Blood donation.

The Ministry of Health, she said, would further ensure that the bill was presented to parliament for approval, to give a legislative backing to the current Blood Policy, to ensure the smooth administration of blood services and activities.