National Blood Service takes measures to sustain blood supply

BY: Daily Graphic

The National Blood Service (NBS) has put in place measures to sustain blood supply, especially for emergency cases, to avert a sharp rise in deaths due to the unavailability of blood for immediate transfusion.

It said this had become necessary because in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it had cancelled all mass blood drives by schools, religious organisations and corporate institutions, which accounted for over 50 per cent of Ghana’s blood supply.

The cancellation, it said, had resulted in acute shortage of blood and components at the three main blood centres in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale.

Revised protocol

A statement signed by the Head of Administration of the NBS, Mr Prince E. Asante, and issued in Accra said the service had revised its blood donor screening protocol, with an enhanced donor questionnaire as a first-line screening tool.

It said potential blood donors who had travel history or had symptoms of common cold, flu or temperature (fever) over the past 14 days were urged to self-defer.

It indicated that an appointment system had been introduced for voluntary blood donors to donate blood at designated blood collection sites with enhanced safety procedures in Accra and Kumasi.

Blood donation pass

The statement said the COVID-19 Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee had approved the issuance of a blood donation pass by the NBS to facilitate the movement of voluntary blood donors who had scheduled appointments to donate blood at the designated collection sites.

It said an aide-memoire on the COVID-19 for blood centres, hospital blood banks and health facilities had been developed and disseminated.

The aide-memoire, it explained, emphasised the shift from mass blood drives to walk-in voluntary donations at designated blood collection sites, the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety supplies to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 and transfusion of blood by clinicians only when it was absolutely necessary.

It assured the public that there was no demonstrable transmission of the COVID-19 through blood and components, and that the risk of transmission was very low and largely theoretical.

Precautionary measures

However, the statement said, sufficient precautionary measures had been put in place to contain any potential risk of COVID-19 transmission through transfusion.

It enumerated some of the measures to include deferral of at-risk donors, quarantine of suspected blood and components, laboratory testing and the use of pathogen reduction technology.

It also encouraged voluntary blood donors to contact the NBS via its Donor Contact Centre for a blood donation appointment to save lives at this critical moment of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It added that the safety of donors from COVID-19 infection during the blood donation process had been adequately catered for at the blood collection sites.