Patients In Africa Spend US$42 To Access Safe Blood -WHO


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that patients in the African region pay an average of US$ 42 out of pocket to access safe blood.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, disclosed this in her message on Wednesday, June 14, commemorating this year’s World Blood Donor Day.

Moeti stated that World Blood Donor Day is celebrated every year on 14 June to raise awareness of safe blood and blood products, such as plasma, and highlight the critical contribution of voluntary, unpaid blood donors to save lives.

She noted that the day was a special opportunity to celebrate and thank voluntary blood donors worldwide for their gift of blood; the day also focus on achieving universal access to safe blood transfusion.

She also informed me that this year’s campaign slogan was, “Give blood, give plasma, share life, share often.”

Consequently, the WHO Africa Regional Director said the slogan underlines the role every person could play by regularly giving the valuable gift of blood to create a safe and sustainable supply of blood and blood products that can always be available to needy patients.

She added that blood service that gave patients access to safe blood and blood products in sufficient quantity was a key component of an effective health system providing patient-centred healthcare and focusing on assuring equitable access to progress to achieving Universal Health Coverage.

Over the years, Member States in the WHO African Region have made significant progress in establishing nationally coordinated blood transfusion services, policy frameworks, and national standards for collecting, testing, processing, storing, and distributing blood and blood products.

Speaking about the state of blood service in the African continent, Dr. Moeti lamented that blood collection in the continent was low:

“This notable progress notwithstanding, only eight countries have blood services that are designed to always ensure the highest levels of quality and safety for patients and donors. Reliance on non-renumerated blood donors is still high, with 16 countries accounting for over 80% of voluntary non-remunerated blood donation.

“Blood collection remains low at an average donation rate of 5.9 units per 1000 people compared to 33.1 donations per 1000 people in high-income countries. Of concern is the financial barrier to accessing safe blood. In the WHO Africa Region, patients pay, on average, US$ 42 out of pocket to access safe blood.

“Results from a survey conducted in 2022 revealed that sixteen (16) countries out of thirty-nine (39) that took part in the survey, had more than 80% of voluntary non-remunerated blood donation (VNRBD), and 19 countries had less than 50% of voluntary non-remunerated blood donation. Thirty (30) countries reported that plasma-derived medicinal products were listed on their essential medicines list. These statistics show that there is a need for more work to be done in the African Region to improve access to safe blood and blood products.

“We must address persistent challenges to ensure sustainable access to safe and quality-assured blood and blood products for needy patients. Through our collaborative efforts, we must raise adequate and sustainable funding and increase blood donation rates. We also need to build the capacity of countries to separate donated blood into its components such as red cell concentrates, platelet concentrates, fresh frozen plasma, and cryoprecipitate, and curb inappropriate clinical transfusion practices”, she said.

Furthermore, she stated that the WHO Regional Office for Africa was working with partners to leverage expertise and available resources in the region to ensure improved access to supplies of plasma-derived products through the fractionation of domestic plasma.

She, therefore, called on governments and individuals to join efforts to ensure access to safe blood for all in need:

“Donating blood is an act of solidarity. Becoming a blood donor will help ease the pressure on health systems and save lives.

“On this World Blood Donor Day, I celebrate and thank individuals who donate blood and encourage all of us to join efforts to ensure access to safe blood for all in need.

“While doing so, let us remember the health of blood donors. The African Region would like to focus on donor health and the quality of donor care as critical factors in building donor commitment and a willingness to donate regularly.

“I would like to emphasize the critical roles of regular voluntary unpaid blood and plasma donations in achieving universal access to safe blood products for all populations.

“I call on governments, partners, and all stakeholders to mobilize support at district, national and regional levels to invest in strengthening and sustaining blood programs”, Dr. Moeti said.

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