The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on African governments and political leaders to prioritize the provision of adequate human and financial resources to secure the future of national blood transfusion services.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti made the call in her message commemorating the 2022 World Blood Donor Day.
TheFact Daily gathered that, the global community mark World Blood Donor Day on the 14th of June every year to focus on the gift of life from voluntary unpaid blood donors around the world.
Dr. Moeti disclosed that, this year’s theme, “Donating blood is an act of solidarity, Join the effort and save lives”, highlights the critical role of voluntary blood donations in saving lives, and enhancing community solidarity and social cohesion.
She further disclosed that, donating one unit of blood could save the lives of up to three patients.
Lamenting the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on blood donation services in the African continent, the WHO Regional Director said:
“Compared to other Regions globally, the African Region sees a disproportionate number of conditions requiring donor blood, impacting as many as seven million patients every year.
“Examples include haemorrhage associated with pregnancy and childbirth, severe anaemia due to malaria and malnutrition, bone marrow and inherited blood disorders, trauma and accidents, as well as man-made and natural disasters.
“While the need for donor blood is universal, access for everyone who needs it is not. In the African Region, demand regularly outstrips supply, negatively impacting timely access for all patients who need safe and quality-assured blood to save their lives.
“As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, voluntary unpaid blood donations dropped significantly. Malawi, for example, registered a 46% decrease in donations”.
She noted that, countries across the African Region had worked hard to improve blood donation frequency, and the situation was showing signs of stabilizing.
Moeti also noted that, blood transfusion services in many countries reached out to blood donors through public awareness campaigns, transporting donors from and to their homes, using digital platforms and establishing call centres.
However, the situation remained challenging, exacerbated by issues such as staff shortages and limited funding from governments and partners organizations for effective blood donor education, recruitment, and retention.
Highlighting some efforts made by WHO Africa in improving blood transfusion services in the continent, Moeti said: “As WHO in the African Region, we provide support to countries at various levels, including resource mobilization for the implementation of national blood transfusion plans, advocacy for integrating blood safety in these plans, and strengthening the legal and regulatory framework for blood safety”.
To consolidate the efforts made by the Organisation, Dr. Moeti urged African governments to also play their part: “On World Blood Donor Day today, I urge African governments and political leaders to prioritize the provision of adequate human and financial resources to secure the future of national blood transfusion services.
“A blood service that gives patients access to safe blood and blood products, in sufficient quantities, is a key component of an effective health system.
“Seeking out opportunities for partnerships and collaborations with media, the private sector, and faith-based and non-governmental organizations, will help increase the recruitment and retention of voluntary unpaid blood donors”, she said.
Concluding her message, the WHO Africa Regional Director said: “Donating blood is an act of solidarity. By becoming a blood donor, you will help ease the pressure on health systems still struggling under the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Once again, we, as WHO in the African Region, join the call for more people to become regular blood donors”.