GHANA – The Ghanaian Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), has embarked on a national voluntary blood donation exercise to help restock the National Blood Bank.

The exercise, which was undertaken in collaboration with the National Blood Donation Association, Ghana (NABDAG), was on the theme: “Donate blood, Save a Life,” and part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.

Mrs. Delese Mimi Darko, the Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority in a speech read on her behalf, underscored the importance of blood, and the need for all to join hands by volunteering to donate blood for the blood bank which was always in need.

She stated that the FDA had since 2016 organized an annual blood donation exercise collecting 1000 pints to restock the blood bank, and explained that it was being replicated in all its regional offices in collaboration with the regional hospitals.

Mrs. Darko said the Authority was looking forward to adding another 1000 pints with this voluntary national blood donation exercise.

She also explained that the World Health Organization considered blood under the definition of a drug, and had established principles and guidelines as well as regulatory requirements to be followed, to ensure quality and safety of blood and blood products to meet the clinical needs of patients.

The FDA, she said was regulating blood and blood products as essential biological medicinal product since 2015, using specific guidelines provided for in the Public Health Act, Act 851 of 2012.

It had also conducted extensive regulatory inspections of over 80 facilities nationwide leading to the licensing of seven blood banks in the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions, she said.

Mr. Edward Bannor of the National Blood Donor Association, Ghana, urged the public to disregard the myths about blood donation, saying he had donated 83 times since 1976, the highest blood donor in Ghana and only stopped donating because he was over 60years, but never fell ill as a result.

He urged the public to donate to stock up the blood bank to help others who may require such transfusions during emergencies.

Blood donation has historically been low in sub-Saharan Africa and it’s fallen even lower during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the World Health Organization, it’s fallen by 17% in the African region. High-income countries make up 19% of the global population and account for 50% of the 112.5 million blood donations collected globally every year. Globally, blood donation rates vary by region.

Documented as blood donations per 1000 people, blood donation rates are: 33.1 in high-income countries, 11.7 in middle-income countries, and 4.6 in low-income countries.

Seven million blood donations are required to meet transfusion needs in the African region. Going by the current blood donation rates, only about 5.5 million donations are generated every year across Africa, leaving a shortfall of more than 1.5 million.

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