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15.06.2005 General News

Ghana's blood donation level still low


Accra, June 15, GNA - Ghana, after 48 years of independence, still has a very low voluntary blood donation status, which was affecting blood banks in the hospitals, Mr George Ahiadro, Chief Blood Organizer of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, said on Wednesday. He said at 43 per cent Ghana's voluntary blood donation was very low as compared with Uganda, South Africa and Eritrea which all have 100 per cent status.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Ahiadro described it as unfortunate, saying that the national figure as at 2004 was 43.7 per cent, while replacement levels stood at 56.3 per cent. He noted that this indicated a low level of education on voluntary donation.

World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa has appealed to health authorities in the region to promote and intensify the collection of blood from voluntary unpaid blood donors through well-organized donor recruitment systems. This is because health workers had found it to be safer, more effective and more efficient than hospital-based family or replacement donations.

Mr Ahiadro said the low percentage of voluntary donation was because people did not want to know of the screening results, though it was strictly confidential and given only to donors upon request. Mr Ahiadzro said if the blood banks had enough stocks, it would have more time to conduct screening under a more relaxed condition instead of having to conduct screening under pressure during emergencies.

He noted that Transfusion Transmissible Infections (TTI) like Hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS and Syphilis, which the blood banks looked out for when screening were on the increase, especially Hepatitis B. Mr Ahiadro said a strategy known as the Pledge 25 Club, which had been dormant for the past three years, had been re-launched to encourage the youth, especially students, to donate at least 25 units of blood, between adolescence to adulthood.

He said other strategies were to ensure education, recruitment and retention of voluntary donors.

"Annual award schemes sponsored by the Rotary club of Ghana have been instituted to honour and motivate individual voluntary donors and an inter-school blood donation competition, also sponsored by the Freemasons are other ways of influencing voluntary blood donations. "These are the strategies we intend to use to get the youth involved in active voluntary blood donation to help replace the family replacement form, where families of patients who had received blood transfusions were to replace them."

Mr Ahiadzro called on Ghanaians to make voluntary blood donation their civic responsibility to help stock the blood banks and make them more efficient.

The WHO said: "A well-organized and coordinated national blood transfusion service based on voluntary unpaid blood donations and supported by effective quality management programmes can efficiently prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases and save lives of millions of people, particularly vulnerable groups such as mothers." 15 June 05