The Vice-President, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, yesterday launched the 2015 Annual Voluntary Blood Donation Campaign with a call on the citizenry to actively donate blood voluntarily to save lives.
“Ghanaians must consider blood donation as a civic responsibility,” he said at the launch in Accra, which also marked the 15th National Blood Donor Day.
He observed that for the nation to achieve sufficiency in blood stock, there was an urgent need for more voluntary donations to adequately stock the blood banks for the benefit of the citizenry.
Ghana requires a minimum of 250,000 units of blood annually, but the stock level falls far below that target, promoting the campaign over the recent years to promote donations.
“The country’s blood supply still falls short of the minimum requirement,” he said, adding that it was regrettable that people waited until their relatives were hospitalised before they donated blood to replace the blood given to those relatives.
“This culture cannot sustain our blood bank,” he said, and urged people to donate voluntarily so that Ghana could achieve the 100 per cent voluntary donation target for 2020 set by the World Health Organisation.
He commended voluntary blood donors for their contribution towards the sustainability of the blood bank, but indicated that the responsibility of timely availability of blood could not be left on the few voluntary donors in the country.
“We need to expand the cycle of volunteers,” he stressed.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur also commended the National Blood Service, Ghana and its partner organisations for their contribution in promoting the campaign for blood donations, and assured them of government’s support in that endeavour.
The celebration, which was used to appreciate multiple donors and stakeholders, had the theme, “Thank you for saving my life.”
As part of the celebration, held with the assistance of the Rotary Clubs of Accra and Accra Ridge, best national and regional donors were honoured with awards.
Kwesi Agyemang Baffour, who donated blood 55 times in the year, was adjudged the best national donor, and was given a double-deck fridge for his prize, followed by Ebenezer Kissiedo, who had donated 51 times, he also received a fridge. Kojo Baidoo Keelson, was adjudged the third best donor for donating 50 times in the year, and he received a flat screen television set for his prize.
Alex Segbefia, Minister of Health, for his part, said statistics indicated that an estimated 289,000 women die annually worldwide from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, and nearly two-thirds of those maternal deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa with severe bleeding as the leading cause and accounting for nearly 25 per cent of the deaths.
“It is very sad and disappointing that an estimated 26 per cent of these deaths are directly related to lack of an emergency supply of blood.
“These deaths can be prevented if we could have more volunteers to join the heroes we are celebrating today to donate blood at least three times a year,” he said.
Dr. Lucy Asamoah-Akuoko, acting Director of the National Blood Service, Ghana, thanked all the voluntary unpaid blood donors for their gift of blood which has saved many lives over the years.
She explained that the nation’s annual minimum blood supply requirement of 250,000 units could be achieved if one per cent of the Ghanaian population voluntarily donated once a year.
Currently, she noted that voluntary blood donations account for only 30 per cent of the total annual donations.
“While family replacement blood donations continue to be used as a stop gap due to the shortfall in the supply from voluntary donations, this system does not ensure adequacy, safety and timeliness of blood supply,” she stated.
By Edmund Mingle