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World Blood Donor Day:COVID-19 restriction affects blood donation in Africa

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The World Health Organisation has said that blood stocks in the African region have declined over the last year as fewer people have been donating blood due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said, this is as a result of travel restrictions and worries of infection that prevented individuals from attending donation centres.

“There are still around seven million patients who require this life-saving product in African countries every year.”

According to her, World Blood Donor Day is celebrated on June 14 annually and the theme for 2021 is, “Give blood and keep the world beating.”

Safe blood and its transfusion are important aspects in providing quality care to save mothers haemorrhaging during childbirth and people with serious injuries.

“Blood is needed for surgical procedures, as well as to treat severe anaemia, inherited blood disorders, and other conditions.

“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,” Moeti said.

As part of the COVID-19 response, 10 African countries are investigating the use of COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma therapy.

The day was also an opportunity to thank and appreciate voluntary, unpaid blood donors for this life-saving gift.

“However, even during the pandemic, blood donors in many countries have made extraordinary efforts to continue to donate blood.

“Awareness campaigns backed by the collaboration of donor associations, civil society organisations, and armed and security forces, have led to good levels of voluntary donor recruitment in eight African countries.

“We are encouraging more young people to donate blood to save lives and to inspire their peers and families to do so too,” Moeti added.

WHO is working with a range of stakeholders to improve access to quality blood supplies and that the organisation was partnering with the Coalition of Blood for Africa (CoBA), launched in November 2020.

She stated that in some countries, in line with national guidance, people aged 16 and 17 can donate blood with their parent’s or guardian’s consent, and in all countries, anyone over 18 can save someone’s life by donating blood.

Moeti urged the governments, in collaboration with blood donor associations and NGOs, to put in place the systems and infrastructure needed to increase the collection of blood from voluntary donors.

 

 

Martha M/NAN

 

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