The Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists (GAMLS) has called for the immediate constitution of a governing board for the National Blood Service (NBS) to improve the regulatory regime for the provision of blood services across the country.
In a statement issued to the media yesterday, the association said the absence of a governing board for nearly two years had hampered implementation of the National Blood Service Act 2020 (Act 1042), giving room for unscrupulous activities in the field.
It followed a recent news documentary on illegal collection of fees for blood supply by a syndicate operating within the NBS, hence the Service’s subsequent response.
“Having consulted membership across the country on matters relating to blood transfusion services and whether things have improved after the birth of Act 1042, the professional body could not agree better on any immediate solution than to demand for a governing board which has been absent for almost two years after the law was enacted,” the statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the GAMLS, Dr. Dennis Adu-Gyasi, requested.
The association argued that, although parliament had reviewed the previous policy governing blood transfusion services, the sector was still saddled with numerous challenges.
“Snippets of complaints in the various hospitals being corroborated by the expose on the blood sale syndicate indicated that till the law starts biting, all efforts to curb the menace associated with blood transfusion services will not be fruitful.”
The association thus urged the Minister of Health to as a matter of urgency “finalise processes to set up and commission a governing board for the National Blood Service ACT 2020 (ACT 1042),” to address the challenges.
It however appealed to members of the public not to be discouraged from donating blood to save lives as voluntary donation was the only means of obtaining and storing blood.
“Safe blood in our hospitals cannot be a gamble anymore. The time to act is now. Voluntary blood donation is the answer, and GAMLS urges the public to keep helping. Blood is not sold,” it stated.
In February this year, Accra-based JOY NEWS, aired a documentary which uncovered illegal collection of fees for blood supply by a syndicate operating within the NBS at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) and the Greater Accra Regional Blood Bank.
Per the documentary, a staff at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital collected GH¢300 for a pint of blood while the leader of a syndicate operating within the NBS at KBTH demanded GH¢750 for the same quantity.
This, according to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Service, Dr Justina Ansah, was illicit as no patient is expected to pay more than GH¢150 for blood.
The amount, she said, was a processing fee to run laboratory tests on blood requested for transfusion.
She admitted however that the decline in voluntary blood donations is why unscrupulous individuals abused the system, taking advantage of the desperation of families and vulnerability of patients in need of supply.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH