ADDIS ABABA - The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti urged people particularly Africans to donate blood and safe Africa's mothers and children. The call came while the WHO observed World Blood Donor Day 2021 yesterday. .
Regional director Matshidiso Moeti extended his appreciation to people who are donating blood saying: "This day is also opportunity to thank and appreciate voluntary, unpaid blood donors for this life saving gift."
Due to COVID-19 pandemic fewer people have been donating blood. Thus the year's theme have become " Give blood and keep the world beating." Apart from this, there are still around seven million patients who require this life saving product in African Countries every year.
The director's message highlighted that safe blood and its transfusion are key aspects in providing quality care to save mother's hemorrhaging during childbirth and people with serious injuries. Blood is needed for surgical procedures as well as to treat severe anemia, inherited blood disorders and other conditions.
It is obvious that blood can only be stored for a limited time and so a steady supply of donations is important to make sure adequate blood products are always available.
The director mentioned Ethiopia and other nine African countries for investigating the use of COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) therapy. Ethiopia, Guinea and Mauritius have collected CCP for compassionate use and randomized control trails are ongoing in South Africa Uganda.
Over the past year, blood stock decreased in African Region as movement restrictions and fears of infection hindered people from accessing donation sites. The average blood donation are dropped by 17% and the frequency of blood drives reduced by 25%. Demand for blood also decreased by 13% with the suspension of routine surgeries in some countries and fewer people seeking care in health facilities.
However, even during the pandemic, blood donors in many countries have made extraordinary efforts to continue to donate blood. The director said awareness campaigners backed by the collaboration of donor associations, civil society organizations, armed and security forces have led good levels of voluntary donor recruitment in eight African countries. She said that the WHO is working with a range of stakeholders to improve access to quality blood supplies.
The regional office is encouraging more young people to donate blood to save lives and inspire their peers and families to do so too. In some countries, in line with national guidance people aged 16 and 17 can donate blood with their parent's and guardian consent, and in all countries anyone over 18 can save someone's life by donating blood.
Seizing the day, the regional director also urged governments, in collaboration with blood donor associations and nongovernmental organizations, to put in place the systems and infrastructure needed to increase the collection of blood from voluntary donors.
BY KFLEEYESUS ABEBE