By Princess-Ekwi Ajide, Abuja
June 14 (Newshour.com.ng) – World Health Organization, WHO, has expressed concerns that despite notable progress, in establishing nationally coordinated blood transfusion services, policy frameworks, and national standards for collecting, testing, processing, storing and distributing blood and blood products only eight countries in the African region have blood services that are designed to always ensure the highest levels of quality and safety for patients and donors.
In a message to mark the World Blood Donor Day, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said the key component of an effective health system providing patient centred healthcare and focusing on assuring equitable access with the aim of progressing to achieving Universal Health Coverage remains a blood service that gives patients access to safe blood and blood products in sufficient quantity but reliance on non-renumerated blood donors is still high, with 16 countries accounting for over 80% of voluntary non-remunerated blood donation.
According to the Regional Director for Africa, 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 hence the concern is the financial barrier to accessing safe blood.
She acknowledged that in the WHO Africa Region, patients pay, on average, US$ 42 out of pocket to access safe blood hence the need to address persistent challenges to ensure sustainable access to safe and quality-assured blood and blood products for needy patients.
Moeti emphasised that all hands must be on deck to raise adequate and sustainable funding and increase blood donation rates and as well, 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 charged the African Region to focus on donor health and the quality of donor care as critical factors in building donor commitment and a willingness to donate regularly.
Moeti, said results from a survey conducted in 2022 revealed that there is a need for more work to be done in the African Region to improve access to safe blood and blood products.
She stressed that the WHO Regional Office for Africa is 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.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, called on governments, partners, and all stakeholders in the region to mobilize support at district, national and regional levels to invest in strengthening and sustaining blood programmes.
She added that donating blood is an act of solidarity and becoming a blood donor will help ease the pressure on health systems and save lives.
This year’s campaign slogan “Give blood, give plasma, share life, share often” underlines the role every person can 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.