“Blood is life”, but why don’t Africans give more?

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According to the World Health Organization, it fell by 17% in the Africa region. High-income countries represent 19% of the world’s population and account for 50% of the 112.5 million blood donations collected worldwide each year. Globally, donation rates vary by region. Documented in the form of blood donations per 1000 people, blood donation rate 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 needed to meet transfusion needs in the African region. Based on current blood donation rates, only around 5.5 million donations are generated each year in Africa, leaving a shortfall of more than 1.5 million.

Four weeks ago, I gave my 16th pint of blood. I see blood donation as a lifeline. I am comforted by the saying that goes, “He who saves a life, saves the whole world.”

Every time I donate blood I visualize how blood would save a life – someone who has dreams to fulfill. I imagine this person survives and goes forward to do great things in the future. My blood recipient can live to discover the next world-changing innovation. The possibilities for a person who gives blood to shape the future of recipients are endless.

I want more Africans to donate blood like me, but I know there are barriers, including cultural ones. These are four ways to deal with and overcome them so that we can get enough donated blood each year.

Religious leaders

First, use religious leaders to counter misinformation and misinformation about donating blood. All over Africa there are misconceptions about donating blood that links it to witchcraft.

Research in Nigeria shows that “the exposure of blood to witchcraft” is one of the reasons given to justify the decline in voluntary blood donation.

The research concluded that most of the reasons given were based on misconceptions, misinformation and ignorance of the the effectiveness and safety of donating blood.

National blood transfusion agencies must become proactive in using the results of this research to inform policy. Witchcraft in Africa has religious foundations. Engaging with religious leaders to become advocates for blood transfusion is imperative.

Incentives for blood donors

Second, celebrate blood donors and offer them incentives to encourage more people to donate. In South Africa, group discussions who assessed motivators and deterrents to donating blood among blacks identified inducements as one of the motivators for donating blood.

Types of incentives identified include gifts, money, recognition, check-up, screening for infectious diseases, perceived health benefits, learning about your blood type, free time at work or at home. school and non-specific incentives.

These incentives are easy to provide. National blood transfusion agencies, government and civil society organizations should consider incentives tailored to a country context and include them when blood donation advocacy materials are developed and disseminated.

Technology

Third, use technology to seamlessly link blood donors and recipients. the J Blood Match The robot developed by Angela Ochu-Baiye is an innovation that allows more blood donors to join the pool.

J Blood Match is a type of artificial intelligence that connects blood donors and recipients using their blood group. It is available across Nigeria via smartphones and accessible by registration on Telegram and Facebook.

J Blood Match is not a blood bank. It links registered donors with those in need of blood in hospitals. When scaled up, J Blood Match has the potential to increase the pool of blood donors and help fill the shortage of blood and blood products.

Convenience

Fourth, make blood donation convenient for donors and potential donors. Across Africa, more and more people are working in the informal economy and do not have time to go to blood donation sites to donate blood.

Therefore, governments, blood transfusion agencies and civil society advocating for blood donation should include blood mobiles as an important logistics to provide services to more Africans. The use of mobile blood donation services can increase the pool donors for the convenience it offers. Bloodmobiles are expected to contain mini solar blood banks, chairs for bleeding donors, a television for entertainment while someone is bled, and megaphones for community awareness and advocacy.

At the end of the line

Blood is life. Human blood is the only blood that can be given to humans. There is no other way to increase blood donation than through voluntary or paid blood donors.

The increase in the pool of blood donors in Africa is the responsibility of Africans. More Africans must become blood donors to save African lives.

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