It is significant to note that World Blood Donor Day is basically to encourage people to understand a message: ‘Give freely, give often, blood donation matters’.
Commemorated globally on June 14, Ghana celebrated the day on Saturday, June 13 on the theme: Thank you for saving my life.’
The activities to herald the day included outdooring of the brand ambassador, a debate at the Accra Academy Senior High School, and the climax of the celebration at the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park in Accra.
According to Dr. Paul Mensah, Head of the Southern Area Blood Centre of the National Blood Service, Ghana (NBSG), they intended to attract many volunteers to the event to donate blood which would be stored for future use to save lives.
He revealed at the launch of the event about a week ago, that the target for this year was 800 units of blood, taking into consideration the fact that the NBSG usually gave out between 200 and 250 units of blood to various hospitals in Accra alone on daily basis.
The disclosure by Dr. Paul Mensah that about 260,000 units of blood is needed every year to cater for Ghana’s current population of about 26 million people, means that as many voluntary blood donors as possible are needed to meet this year’s target.
It is, therefore, incumbent on all well-meaning Ghanaians to see voluntary blood donation as an important national cause and act as such to contribute to saving lives.
It is disheartening to learn that Ghana is yet to achieve the national target of about 260,000 units of blood annually. This is informed by the fact that only 50 per cent of the target was met in 2014 and, therefore, there is the urgent need for people to be patriotically committed to voluntary blood donation.
Of course, as Ghanaians, we have no other choice than to be committed to voluntary blood donation because the hospitals cannot depend on about 60 per cent of blood supply from people who show up only when a relative needs blood at the hospital or ought to replace blood already given to a relative on emergency situations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that about 290,000 people die globally, because they do not have access to blood, with a large proportion of that number coming from sub-Saharan Africa, of which Ghana is part.
It must be understood by all that in Ghana, more than 60 per cent of all blood collected is used for surgical cases, particularly by women during child birth. In other words, by donating blood, you are saving the life of car accident and trauma victims, cancer patients and sickle cell and other blood disease victims.
Similarly, it must also be understood by all that circumstances such as surgical cases and child birth are not the appropriate times to be calling relatives and friends to supply blood, for the simple reason that the time wasted can cause an unnecessary and preventable death.
Studies have shown that donating blood is just as healthy for the donor as it is for the recipient. When you donate blood, the process preserves cardiovascular health, prevents cancer, heart attacks and strokes, and gives you a free analysis of your blood.
In order to donate blood though, you must be at least 18 years of age, meet the iron level requirements, be within a certain height and weight ratio, and answer a few questions on previous health and trips taken outside of the country.
As we all join with the authorities of the National Blood Service to commemorate World Blood Donor Day, let us all as a people with a common destiny, support Miss Ghana 2014 to effectively carry out her public educational campaign on voluntary blood donation to re-stock the blood banks and to enhance a healthy population.
Indeed, the greatest benefit of blood donation is to be told: “Thank you for saving my life” or knowing that you have saved someone’s precious and only life.
By Dan Osman Mwim