A 12-member committee to ensure the full implementation of the approved National Blood Policy was inaugurated in Accra yesterday with a call on them to influence the National Identification Authority to include the blood groups on the cards of each Ghanaian.
This will facilitate prompt treatment in case of emergencies and accidents and also prevent patients from waiting for long periods whilst their blood groups are being checked.
Major Courage Quashigah (Rtd), Minister for Health, who made the call, said many Ghanaians did not know their blood groups. "We only go to the laboratory to check for our blood groups when we are going to marry and that practice should change."
He said the issue of blood was so sensitive that it needed a policy to ensure its safety and called on all to invest in good blood transfusion service and adequately supply.
The Minister noted that blood service was very critical that it also needed an effective and efficient agency to address the procurement and supply of safe and efficacious blood and blood products.
Major Quashigah explained that whilst in the developed world, blood transfusion was given mainly to the elderly, in the developing world, majority of the beneficiaries were children under-two and young women of childbearing
age who had more years ahead of them to live.
"It is therefore important for us to think more of blood safety than is being done in the developed world or else we would end up spending a lot more as a result of bad policies or good policies not being implemented."
The Committee, which will be an advisory body to the Minister on the implementation of the policy, will also ensure that blood and blood products are safe, available, affordable and easily accessible to every Ghanaian who might need it without any form of discrimination.
It will also organise activities for the generation of funds, plan for capital projects and review the financial reports of the National Blood Service.
It will also advise on policies pertaining to ethics with regard to blood donors, National Blood Service staff, patients receiving blood and ensure blood donors and staff were adequately insured against litigation from patients.
The Committee will ensure the identification, recruitment, retention and development of competent staff to man the Service and ensure research and development pertaining to these areas.
Dr Justina Ansah, Director of the National Blood Transfusion Service, said the blood policy was approved in 2006 when the first Committee's term of office expired. The first Committee began its work in 1999 and its mandate expired in 2004.
She noted that the National Blood Bank did not have enough blood to supply the whole country. This situation coupled with other problems prompted the need to reconstitute the Committee to manage the Service.
Dr Ansah explained that blood donated at the Bank went through screening before transfusion to ensure its safety and renewed her call on all to donate to save the lives of other patients in need.