WHO tasks govts in Africa to increase investment in blood transfusion services

By Hassan Zaggi

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, has called on countries in the region in collaboration with blood donor associations and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to increase investment in blood transfusion services in line with the WHO guidance.

She stated this in a message to mark the year 2020 Blood Donor Day

She explained that “safe blood is a critical resource in severe infant anaemia, postpartum hemorrhage and trauma care.

“It is also vital in surgeries and the treatment of malaria, sickle cell disease, thalassemia, inherited blood disorders, and AIDS.”

She regretted that COVID-19 has put the supply of safe blood at greater risk.

According to her: “Regular blood donation drives are being postponed, and stay-at-home orders and fear of infection are preventing donors from accessing services.

“Disruptions to the global supply chain also put countries at risk of shortages of critical supplies and equipment needed for blood donation and transfusion.”

She, however, stressed that universal access to safe blood is a key component of a resilient health system and contributes to achieving universal health coverage.

While commending the African countries for their efforts so far, Dr. Moeti said: “In the African Region, countries are making progress in improving access to quality-assured blood and blood products.

“In 2019, eight countries collected 10 units or more per 1000 population as recommended by WHO and 19 countries reached the target of over 80% voluntary non-remunerated blood donations in line with the regional strategy for blood safety.”

She revealed that WHO is exploring partnerships with Facebook to set-up a regional blood donations feature, and that 15 countries have expressed interest in piloting the tool.

The feature, according to her, connects blood donors with nearby opportunities to donate in collaboration with approved blood banks.

She, therefore, applauded voluntary, unpaid blood donors for what she described as “the life-saving gifts they offer to communities and all the phlebotomists and other health workers who contribute to blood donation and transfusion services – because of your commitment, safe blood saves lives

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