Nat’l policy on safe blood service launched

A national policy to guide the provision of safe blood services in the country to build a healthier population, was launched in Accra on Monday.

Themed: “Safe and adequate blood for all,” the new policy, seeks to attain a sustainable national supply of blood that relies 100 per cent on voluntary blood donation to meet the needs of patients, who require blood transfusion in both public and private health facilities.

The policy will also ensure the rational use of safe blood and its components in health facilitieswhile co-ordinating all activities related to blood donations to avoid duplications, in line with international best practices.

The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, speaking at the launch of the document, indicated that the policy culled from Ghana’s first ever National Blood Policy in 2006, was in line with government’s commitment to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

“It is our hope that by the end of 2030, there will be universal access to affordable essential medical services including blood services for a healthy population for national development,” he said.

The minister lauded the National Blood Service (NBS) and other stakeholders in the health sector, for keeping the industry running despite the effect of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“It is refreshing to note that besides the busy schedule that the COVID-19 pandemic brought, we also kept our eyes on the many other important things that needed to be done to strengthen the health delivery system and this policy is one of the many successes,” he stated.

Mr Agyeman-Manu urged health professionals to support the implementation of the policy.

Chief Executive Officer of the NBS, Dr Justina Ansah, said despite a steady rise in total annual blood donations in the country, the policy fell short of the WHO recommended minimum blood collection index (BCI) of 10 units per 1,000 population.

“Between 2016 and 2019, the BCI has been around 6.0 except in 2018 when it fell to 5.6. Voluntary unpaid blood donations averaged around 36 per cent of total donations nationwide over the same period.

Family replacement blood donations however, remain high accounting for more than 60 per cent of blood supply,” she disclosed.

Dr Ansah said that the National Blood Service (NBS) would implement the new policy in a short and medium term strategic plan with the collaboration of other stakeholders to attain its goals.

“Currently, the challenge of unmet demand for blood for transfusion in public and private health facilities appears very daunting but not unsurmountable. Not everyone can donate blood but we can all play various roles to support voluntary unpaid blood donation,” she said.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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