7 million patients require blood transfusion in Africa annually ― WHO

World Health Organisation(WHO) has said no fewer than seven million patients in Africa require blood transfusion every year.

This is as it stated that the average blood donation rate in Africa has dropped by 17% and the frequency of blood drives has also reduced by 25%.

It further stated that demand for blood also decreased by 13% with the suspension of routine surgeries in some countries and fewer people seeking care in health facilities.

This is contained in a message of the Regional Director for Africa of the World Health Organisation, Dr Matshidiso Moet to commemorate 2021 World Blood Day and raising awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products such as plasma.

The 2021 Blood Commemoration Day-themed “Give blood and keep the world-beating.”

According to Moet, the day is also an opportunity to thank and appreciate voluntary, unpaid blood donors for this life-saving gift.

“Safe blood and its transfusion are key aspects in providing quality care to save mothers hemorrhaging during childbirth and people with serious injuries.”

“Blood is needed for surgical procedures, as well as to treat severe anaemia, inherited blood disorders, and other conditions.”

“Blood can only be stored for a limited time and so a steady supply of donations is important to make sure adequate blood products are always available.”

Moet disclosed that as part of the COVID-19 response, 10 African countries are investigating the use of COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) therapy.

“Among them, Ethiopia, Guinea and Mauritius have collected CCP for compassionate use and randomized control trials are ongoing in South Africa and Uganda.”

“Over the past year, blood stocks decreased in the African Region as movement restrictions and fears of infection hindered people from accessing donation sites.

“The average blood donation rate dropped by 17% and the frequency of blood drives reduced by 25%. Demand for blood also decreased by 13% with the suspension of routine surgeries in some countries and fewer people seeking care in health facilities.”

Moet however said even during the pandemic, blood donors in many countries have made extraordinary efforts to continue to donate blood.

“Awareness campaigns backed by the collaboration of donor associations, civil society organizations, and armed and security forces, have led to good levels of voluntary donor recruitment in eight African countries.”

“As WHO we are working with a range of stakeholders to improve access to quality blood supplies.”

“We have partnered with the Coalition of Blood for Africa (CoBA), launched in November 2020, to drive this agenda, including engaging the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) and the private sector”.

“The BloodSafe Program funded by the United States of America National Institutes of Health supports research to enhance the availability of safe blood in African countries.

“Through this partnership, research projects in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi are underway in collaboration with universities in the United States.”

“In partnership with Facebook, we have set up a Regional Blood Donations feature, which connects people with nearby blood banks.

“The tool is now live in 12 countries and over 3.8 million Facebook users have signed up to be notified of blood donation opportunities.”

“We are encouraging more young people to donate blood to save lives and to inspire their peers and families to do so too.

“In some countries, in line with national guidance, people aged 16 and 17 can donate blood with their parent’s or guardian’s consent, and in all countries, anyone over 18 can save someone’s life by donating blood.”

“In closing, on this World Blood Donor Day, I urge governments, in collaboration with blood donor associations and non-governmental organizations, to put in place the systems and infrastructure needed to increase the collection of blood from voluntary donors.

“To all those who have donated blood, I thank you, and I encourage everyone to give this life-saving gift.”

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