The World Health Organization, WHO on Wednesday, called on governments, partners and stakeholders to mobilize support at national and regional levels to invest in strengthening and sustaining blood programs.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti made the call in a statement issued to mark the 2023 World Blood Donor Day.
The Africa Regional director stated that donating blood is an act of solidarity, stressing that becoming a blood donor will help ease the pressure on health systems and save lives.
According to him, “A blood service that gives patients access to safe blood and blood products in sufficient quantity is a key component of an effective health system providing patient-centred healthcare and focusing on ensuring equitable access with the aim of progressing to achieving Universal Health Coverage”.
He described World Blood Donor Day as an opportunity to celebrate and thank voluntary blood donors worldwide for their gift of blood, stating that the day focuses on achieving universal access to safe blood transfusion.
“Over the years, member states in the WHO African Region have made significant progress in establishing nationally coordinated blood transfusion services, policy frameworks, and national standards for collecting, testing, processing, storing and distributing blood and blood products.
“This notable progress notwithstanding, only eight countries have blood services that are designed to always ensure the highest levels of quality and safety for patients and donors. Reliance on non-remunerated blood donors is still high, with 16 countries accounting for over 80% of voluntary non-remunerated blood donation.
“Blood collection remains low at an average donation rate of 5.9 units per 1000 people compared to 33.1 donations per 1000 people in high-income countries. Of concern is the financial barrier to accessing safe blood”, the statement added.