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Voluntary blood donations drop by 55%

Voluntary blood donations to stock various blood banks across the country have dropped by 55 per cent this year, the National Blood Service (NBS) has revealed.

According to the Service, 46,446 units of blood were collected through donations from January to September 2019, while only 20,841 were claimed over the same period this year.

Similarly, total units of blood collected nationwide, both voluntary and non-voluntary, declined by 15 per cent from 135,257 to 114,709.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NBS, Dr Justina Ansah, speaking at the commemoration of this year’s National Blood Donor Day, expressed fears of dire implications for the health sector as voluntary donations “are considered the safer source of blood.”

“Implications of the sharp drop in voluntary blood donation are dire on health outcomes. Patients who cannot find relatives and friends to donate blood for them during emergencies may not recover from their conditions,” she noted.

Admitting that the COVID-19 pandemic largely contributed to the decline, Dr Ansah said notwithstanding that, demand for blood continued to rise as people required blood transfusions as part of clinical management of various conditions amidst the epidemic.

The CEO appealed to eligible donors, particularly people between the ages of 17 and 60, to donate blood to save lives and reverse the trend.

“Blood is not manufactured. Someone has to donate for another to receive. Moreover, donated blood expires after 35 days of collection in addition to the fact that all eight blood types must be available all the time in the right proportions at the blood banks even before the need for transfusion arises,” she said.

Dr Ansah disclosed that the NBS had put in place systems, including scheduled appointments, strict adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols and other precautionary measures to contain risk of the virus.

“Deferral of at-risk donors, quarantine of suspected blood, laboratory testing and the use of pathogen reduction technology have been instituted to prevent any risk of COVID-19 infection,” she assured.

The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, in a speech read on his behalf, expressed the resolve of the government to continue resourcing the NBS to improve availability of safe blood for all, particularly those in hard-to-reach areas.

He encouraged the public to become regular donors of blood and volunteer with the NBS to reach out to “members in our communities and support blood donor activities locally”.

This year’s World Blood Donor Day was marked on the theme “Safe blood saves lives”, with the slogan being “Give blood and make the world a healthier place.”

With support from the Rotary Club of Accra and Accra-Ridge respectively, the event honoured personalities and institutions that had supported blood donation activities over the years.

Forty-year-old Ibrahim Fawzy Jibril, a teacher, was adjudged the national best blood donor for 2020 for consistently donating blood to save lives in the last 28 years.      

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH& GLORIA NSIAH MINTAH

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