The National Blood Service is overwhelmed by demands for blood by individuals and various health institutions, as the service lacks the quantity of blood needed to meet the demand.
For instance, the Southern Area Blood Centre, which is responsible for blood transfusion needs within the Greater Accra, Volta, Central and parts of the Eastern and Western regions, needs a minimum of 200 units a day, while the maximum needed a day is 300 units.
However, the service records a stock of about 100 units a day, far below its requirement.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Public Relations Officer of the National Blood Service, Mr Stephen Addai-Baah, said the service was unable to meet the demand for blood by health institutions and individuals.
He said the situation had affected the operations of institutions, adding that the health institutions would find it difficult to save lives if there was not enough blood in the system.
“When people are involved in serious accidents or there are complications during childbirth, such as haemorrhage, many lives could be lost and this could have been prevented if we had enough blood,” he said.
Mr Addai-Baah stated that unpaid voluntary blood donations were on the decline due to certain cultural factors and perceptions held by individuals.
He, however, stated that the service received most of its donations from family placements and corporate institutions.
To increase the donation of blood to the service, it had, according to Mr Adjei-Baah, intensified its educational campaigns.
According to him, the service had begun educating people in schools, churches and communities to encourage voluntary blood donation.
He said there had been improvement in the donation of blood after the service intensified its educational campaigns but appealed to individuals and institutions to donate blood.
“Developed countries do not complain of blood shortages because they had in the past educated their citizens from the basic level and that is what we are doing now,” he said.
Sale of blood
Mr Addai-Baah discounted suggestions that the donation of blood should be commercialised to encourage individual donations and explained that “blood is supposed to be free and not sold and it is meant to save lives and not a business”.
He added that the cost of GH¢35 needed to purchase blood from the service was as a result of the screening processes needed to check the purity of the blood.
According to Mr Adjei-Baah, the service was in talks with the government to make that cost free if the government covered the cost under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a goal for all countries to obtain a 100 per cent voluntary unpaid blood donation by 2020 and it has also targeted the year 2020 for self-sufficiency by all countries.
In Ghana, an estimated 1,323 people were killed in road accidents in 2013, according to statistics from the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service.
Over five million people also got injured through those same accidents.
Those people often require transfusion during the first 24 hours of treatment.
Source: Graphic Online