Dr Shirley Phyllis Owusu-Ofori (inset), Chief Executive Officer of the National Blood Service, addressing the participants
Dr Shirley Phyllis Owusu-Ofori (inset), Chief Executive Officer of the National Blood Service, addressing the participants
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Ghana records increase in voluntary blood donation

There was an increase in voluntary blood donation in the country last year, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Blood Service, Dr Shirley Phyllis Owusu-Ofori, has said.

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She said voluntary blood collection had increased from 45 per cent to 49 per cent at the three zonal blood centres in the country — Accra, Kumasi and Tamale. The chief executive said the service received over 50,000 collections, with the baseline blood collection index per 1000 rising from 5.8 per cent to 5.9 per cent in 2023.

She said voluntary blood donations also surged from 25 per cent to 30 per cent nationwide. Dr Owusu-Ofori attributed improvement in the figures to educational talks and rigorous testing for critical transfusion-transmissible infections.

Targets

She said despite the national required target of 335,000 units, the service received 182,696, out of the targeted 183,264, representing 99 .7 per cent of the targeted and 54.5 per cent of required units.

The participants

The participants

The chief executive said voluntary donation also increased from 17 per cent in 2019, to 30 per cent in 2023, adding "our target is to do more and inch closer to 100 per cent voluntary, that is why we are meeting to look at how we can chart that path”.

“We are hoping that with all the discussions we have had, we aim to complete our five-year strategic plan and move closer towards the 10 per 1,000 across all 16 regions,” she said.

Dr Owusu-Ofori was speaking at a maiden strategic dialogue organised by the National Blood Service in Accra yesterday, dubbed "Enhancing strategies for meeting healthcare needs.”

The event was aimed at initiating meaningful conversations on key issues related to blood service sustainability and strategic importance of safe blood transfusion to achieve universal health coverage in the country.

Stakeholders also deliberated on actionable strategies to ensure sustainability of blood services. The programme was supported by the World Health Organization (WHO). Dr Owusu-Ofori said WHO recommends 10 units per 1,000 population for a country to meet its needs, and said the country's index reached 5.9 by the end of 2023.

She said the regional distribution of blood availability varied, as some regions are better endowed than others, saying “our three zonal centres: Accra, Kumasi and Tamale, have demonstrated robust recovery trends post-COVID-19, with Kumasi achieving an impressive 82 per cent by the end of 2023.”

Dr Owusu-Ofori said the NBS remained committed to improving its collection rates and ensuring a safe and sufficient blood supply for all regions, adding “our goal is to ensure access to safe and adequate blood and blood products and related services. So it is important for continued efforts towards achieving these objectives.”

“This dialogue aimed at increasing blood donation rates, advocate regular voluntary donations, initiate discussions on establishing regional blood centres, support hospital blood banks, foster initiatives to improve the regulatory environment and pragmatic collaborations,” she said.

Blood policy

The Deputy Minister of Ministry of Health, Alexander Akwasi Acquah, said his outfit had revised the National Blood Policy to align with the nation’s blood services and global targets such as Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to support the passage of necessary legislation and frameworks for the full implementation of the National Blood Service Act, 2020 (Act 1042).

The Deputy Minister, however, expressed concern that “some unscrupulous individuals have taken to social media to cast unfounded allegations, dissuading well-meaning citizens from donating blood”.

He said such actions were hindering the efforts of the NBS in attaining its target. The Country Representative of WHO, Dr Frank Lule, therefore, called on all stakeholders to collaborate to raise awareness, dispel myths, increase blood donations and strengthen the capacity of blood services to save lives and improve the health of the nation.

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