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Voluntary blood donation: A clarion call to action

BY: Daily Graphic
Voluntary blood donation: A clarion call to action
Voluntary blood donation: A clarion call to action

Today[June 14], Ghana is joining the global community to commemorate World Blood Donor Day. The theme for this year’s commemoration is: “Donating blood is an act of solidarity — Join the effort and save lives”.

The aim of this year’s celebration is to raise global awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion, as well as the critical contribution voluntary, unpaid blood donors make to national health systems.

According to the National Blood Service (NBS), Ghana, the focus of the day was to draw attention to the roles that voluntary blood donations played in saving lives and enhancing solidarity within communities.

It is widely acknowledged that the act of blood donation contributes to generating social ties and building a united community.

World Blood Donor Day is set aside to appreciate voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gift of blood. It is also to raise awareness of the need for regular blood donations to ensure access to affordable and timely supplies of safe and quality blood and blood products by patients suffering from life-threatening conditions.

It is estimated that out of the people who are considered “eligible” to donate blood in the country, only about 10 per cent choose to do so.

Blood donation is an entirely voluntary process and, therefore, World Blood Donor Day is an important reminder of how there can never be such a thing as too many blood donations.

The commemoration of the day provides an opportunity to ask the government and health authorities to provide adequate resources and put in place systems and structures to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors.

The Daily Graphic is concerned about the perennial shortage of blood in most health facilities. We believe we must move away from the over-reliance on family replacement donations and embrace voluntary, anonymous and unpaid blood donation to guarantee adequate and safe blood for transfusion.

We believe that the challenges associated with blood donation will be resolved with the passage of the National Blood Service Bill into law to improve the regulatory regime for the provision of blood services throughout the country. It will effectively empower the NBS to coordinate and supervise all blood services in accordance with the law.

Blood transfusion is an indispensable intervention in healthcare delivery that contributes to saving thousands of lives each year in routine and emergency cases. A functional national blood supply system that relies on regular blood donations by voluntary donors from low-risk population is, therefore, a prerequisite for achieving self-sufficiency in safe blood and blood products in Ghana.

However, the national blood supply system continues to rely heavily on replacement donations by family relations and friends of patients who require blood transfusion.

Blood transfusion is critical to achieving the health-related Sustainable Development Goal 3.8, which seeks to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Indeed, blood transfusion contributes to reducing maternal mortality and the death of newborns and children aged under-five, combating epidemics of communicable diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and the neglected tropical diseases and also hepatitis, as well as preventing deaths and managing injuries from road traffic accidents.

The Daily Graphic lends itself to the call on people to voluntarily and regularly donate blood to help save the lives of people with a wide variety of medical needs, from pre-planned, minor procedures to emergency surgeries.

As blood transfusion is an important part of the planned treatment of cancer patients or expectant mothers, as well as vital in case of disasters or road crashes, it behooves all citizens to make it a point to donate blood voluntarily to save the lives of people who are in dire need of blood.

We also call on the government to resource public hospitals with modern blood banks to enable them to store adequate blood for use whenever it is necessary.