Ghana experienced a shortage of over 111,000 units of blood in 2020, representing more than 39.7% of national demand. This means that thousands of Ghanaians with various health conditions that required blood transfusion died as a result of the non-availability of blood. According to the National Blood Service, regular blood donations by voluntary donors from low-risk populations is a prerequisite for achieving self-sufficiency in safe blood and blood products for every country. However, in Ghana, the national blood supply system continues to rely heavily on replacement donations by family relations and friends of patients who require blood transfusion. Due to the covid-19 pandemic that hit the country hard last year, blood supply nationwide decreased to 17% with a drop of more than 25% in the national blood supply when compared to the previous year.
21st of September each year is observed as a statutory holiday in Ghana to celebrate the birthday of Ghana’s first president, the late Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah. Some Ghanaians, led by a youth group known as Accra Konnect have also marked this same day as ‘’National Volunteers Day’’. This day has been set aside for many Ghanaians to volunteer in different support activities to help the community, individuals and the nation. This year, Africa’s leading e-commerce company Jumia partnered with Accra Konnect and the National Blood Service to organize a blood donation exercise. This took place at Jumia’s head office in Accra where staff, vendors and consumers took turns to donate a pint of blood each to the National Blood Bank. Other individuals and members of Accra Konnect also donated blood.
Speaking about the blood donation exercise, Public Relations & Communications Manager of Jumia Ghana Mr. Bennet Otoo urged Ghanaians to make it a habit of donating blood if they are in good health. He said ‘’ Thousands of Ghanaians die each year due to the lack of adequate blood supply. Constant blood supply is essential to a sustainable health sector as accident victims, patients who undergo surgery and pregnant women often need high amounts of blood to recover well. Ghanaians in good health standing who can afford to donate should do so at least once a year. This will help increase stock at the National Blood Bank while saving many lives. Jumia believes in a healthy environment which is very important to national development. This is why Jumia organized this blood donation exercise. We had many employees, vendors and consumers join in to support this worthy cause’’.
Aside from helping others and saving lives, there are several other benefits that one can derive from donating blood. For example, it helps reveal health issues that the donor may have. Before giving blood, a donor is examined and that involves checking blood pressure, pulse, body temperature, and hemoglobin, among other factors. Additionally, a testing facility will check the blood for any infectious diseases or other issues. If the facility finds a problem, it will contact the donor and let them know. Additionally, donating blood at least once a year could reduce the risk of heart attack by up to 88%. People with high iron stores in their bodies are more likely to have cardiac issues as the iron constricts the blood vessels. Donating blood lowers the amount of iron in the body, providing more room for the blood vessels to operate. Other benefits of frequent blood donation include reduced risk of cancer, improved liver health, improved blood pressure and mental health boost.
“I appeal to all Ghanaians to take part in blood donations regularly to save lives because blood cannot be manufactured and there is no artificial substitute. It can only be donated. Many Ghanaians are afraid to donate although it’s just a simple process which has great benefits for the donor as well” said Mrs. Joyce Oppong Adu from the National Blood Service.
Many of the donors were excited about contributing their quota to the growth of the National Blood Bank while saving the lives of many Ghanaians in need. They pledged to continue donating regularly whenever they could and promised to educate more people about the importance of blood donation.