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Be There for Someone Else. Give Blood. Share Life- World Blood Donor Day Celebrations in Ghana

This year , the World Health Organization joined the global community once again to celebrate the gift of blood on World Blood Donor Day, under the theme “Be There for Someone Else. Give Blood. Share Life”.
As part of the commemorations, the National Blood Service in collaboration with other partners; WHO country office, Rotary Club, National Association of Voluntary Blood Donors, Second Cycle and Tertiary Institutions organized a blood donation campaign. This year’s campaign also aimed to highlight and create wider public awareness of the need for regular, unpaid blood donation and inspire those who have not yet donated blood to start donating, particularly young people who are in good health.
In her welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Blood Service Dr Justina Kordai Ansah, the Chief executive of the National Blood Service, affirmed the commitment of her outfit, to sustain the campaign for 100 per cent voluntary blood donation to improve access to safe and adequate blood supplies for effective transfusion.
She said the theme sent clear signals to all citizens on the need for committed, year-round blood donations, in order to maintain adequate supplies and achieve national self-sufficiency of blood, and urged Ghanaians to focus their attention on giving blood as an expression of community participation in the health system, to meet the never ending demands for blood.
She therefore called for an effective nationally- coordinated Blood Service, and a sustained voluntary unpaid blood donation system, underlined with fundamental human values of altruism, respect, empathy and kindness.
Ghana collected a total of 162,226 units of blood in 2017, of which only 36 per cent were given by voluntary unpaid blood donors, with the remaining 64 per cent coming from family replacement donors.
However, since the family replacement blood donation system did not cater for patients in emergencies, there must be improved sufficiency of the commodity in the blood bank to cater for emergency situations, she said.
Dr Ansah said the Service however welcomed the government’s intervention in improving blood supply to many inaccessible community health facilities across the country during emergencies through the use of drone services, as recently announced by the Vice President, Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia.
“We believe this intervention is timely and appropriate as it comes at a time the World Health Assembly Resolution is recognising the importance of voluntary blood donation on the global health agenda at the highest level.
Dr Samuel Asiamah, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital, who was the chairperson for the occasion, said that Ghana had still not been able to achieve 100 per cent voluntary blood donation status as required by the World Health Organisation (WHO), despite the various interventions over the years to achieve the target. 
Statistics from the WHO indicated that only 62 countries globally got close to a 100 per cent of their national blood supplies from voluntary unpaid blood donations, with thirty four others still dependent on family replacement blood donors. He said Ghana was however not one of the 62 countries, a situation which needed concerted efforts by all stakeholders to urgently address the loose ends of policy and programmes aimed at investing in the sustenance of blood donations, and ensuring the availability of safe blood and blood products in the banks, to save lives.
Ms Tina Mensah, the Deputy Minister of Health in her keynote address said there was the need to move away from the family replacement system of blood donation and redouble efforts to attain the 100 per cent voluntary blood donation target set by the WHO to be achieved the year 2020.
She said it was unfortunate that raising awareness on the need to donate blood had still not yielded the desired result. However the government, through the Ministry, was committed to attaining the target by prioritising the passage of the National Blood Service Bill, to provide the requisite legal framework to accelerate progress towards its achievement.
Ms Mensah pledged the Ministry’s commitment to strengthen the institutional capacity of the NBS to deliver on its mandate of ensuring availability of safe and adequate blood and blood products for patients in both public and private health institutions.
“To this end, I urge Management and staff of the National Blood Service to re-double their efforts and adopt innovative approaches to encourage more individuals and corporate organisations to undertake voluntary blood donation activities on regular basis,” she said.  
Dr Owen Kaluwa, the WHO Country Representative, urged the Ministry of Health to put in place systems to strengthen the National Blood Services to ensure universal access to blood transfusion services, pledging the sustained commitment of WHO to ensure sustainable funding for blood services.
“As we commemorate World Blood Donor Day, I thank all voluntary blood donors and encourage them to continue giving this valuable gift regularly to ensure sufficient blood supplies for all patients. I congratulate and express my support to blood donor associations and other non-governmental organizations and all those who are working to make safe blood available in healthcare facilities”, he concluded.
Citations were presented to Educational Institutions which had single-handedly contributed significantly to blood donation efforts in Ghana. Brand ambassadors for Blood donation in Ghana were also recognized.

source: afro.who.int