The National Blood Service, Ghana (NBSG), in collaboration with Global Blood Fund and DIAGAST, has launched a project to promote blood donation among non-blood donors.
The project, dubbed, “Know Your Type” aims to address the pressing need for an increased supply of safe blood and to ensure that individuals are well-informed about their blood type and the significance it holds in emergencies.
It also aims to close the gap between the demand for blood and its availability, so saving more lives, by employing a step-by-step strategy to recruiting blood donors, commonly known as the “foot-in-the-door approach.”
Speaking during the occasion, Dr Shirley Owusu-Ofori, Chief Executive Officer of NBS, stated that the need for blood is constant and important.
However, the availability of blood donors frequently falls short of the demand, resulting in enormous obstacles and unnecessary deaths, particularly among pregnant women and children.
“It is this pressing need that has ignited our determination to mobilize blood donors effectively and efficiently,” she stated.
It is this challenge that The Global Blood Fund’s ‘Know Your Type’ project aims to address, she said.
The NBS CEO said the project recognised the importance of education surrounding blood types.
“We understand that not everyone is aware of their blood type or the significance it holds in emergencies.
As a result, by starting this project, we will undertake a comprehensive public awareness campaign, disseminating information about the many blood types, their compatibility, and the critical role they play in saving lives.
Giving a background on the effort, Mr. Evans Gavin, Executive Director of Global Blood Fund, stated that negotiations on the project began in 2019, and by January 2020, a draft plan was considered to support the project.
However, COVID-19 hit, and the project was put on hold.
M Gavin thus encouraged Ghanaians to take advantage of the project to know their blood type and become voluntary blood donors.
He said the Global Blood Fund looked forward to continuing their relationship with the National Blood Service to ensure continuous blood availability and sustainability.
The project’s components, according to Dr Lucy Asamoah-Akuoko, Head of Research, Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation, include mapping out facilities/communities that have never donated blood before, visiting places to enroll potential blood donors, and exposing them to intervention.
The initiative includes of a free ABO RhD test utilizing Diagast ADB pads, giving test results to potential donors, educating potential donors, and inviting people to donate blood.
The component also comprises paying follow-up visits for blood donation within 2-4 weeks and analyzing the impact through surveys, qualitative interviews, and data analysis.
“Several staff from donor services, laboratory, and research, departments have been trained on the protocol, procedures, and workflow,” she said.
Dr. Asamoah-Akuoko stated that the project would be executed within the operations of the Blood Centre, requiring the support and dedication of all staff.
If the program was successful and demonstrated to be helpful, there were intentions to seek funding to scale up in order to facilitate the recruitment of new donors from around the country.
Mr Stephane Eznack, DIAGAST’s General Manager for Africa, stated that supplying blood typing tools to the NBS as part of the project package will allow donors to know their blood group.