By Sarjo Camara Singateh The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Mr. Omar Sey has called onBlood Donors Needed people to donate blood in order to save lives and promote humanity. The health Minister was speaking recently in Brikama at the Governor’s resident where the commemoration of World Blood Donor Day was held on 14 June, 2015.Minister Sey stated that blood donors deserve to be commended for their unique role in saving life. He said that the theme for this year’s world blood donor day is “thank you for saving my life” and blood donors deserved to be gratified. The Programme Manager National Blood Transfusion Service, Ms Mariama Jammeh stated that “the need for blood transfusion in our health facilities is increasingly high due to the high number of gyaenic and obstetric complications needing transfusion, anaemia in children, surgical operations and also with increasing number of chronic diseases like cancers” Ms. Jammeh added that, “Every year, between 10-12 thousand units of blood are collected in the Gambia, yet only 25% of the blood collected comes from voluntary non-remunerated blood donors. This is the highest contributing factor to blood shortage in our health facility.”  She said to make up for this shortfall, there is urgent need for appropriate strategies that will help not only to collect sufficient quantities of blood that is safer for  patients, but also to ensure behavior change among our populations in the light of the growing threat of family donors. She noted that severe blood loss from childbirth is the most common causes of death among mothers in Africa and the Gambia is not an exception. She said anaemia due to malaria, malnutrition and other factors are also a great cause of child mortality. The Programme Manager national Blood Transfusion Services opined that lack of safe blood supply also means that lives are needlessly lost among victims of anaemia and trauma, amongst others thus emphasising advocacy for safe blood practices should be stronger now than ever. Dr. Charles Sergoe Mosses, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Director, said World Blood Donor Day activists are integral in the work to ensure that safe, quality blood and blood products are available when patients need them most.  He said blood transfusion plays an essential role in the provision of health care, particularly among the vulnerable people such as women suffering from haemorrhage during or after childbirth, children suffering from severe anemia due to malaria and malnutrition, victims of trauma and accidents as well as patients suffering from sickle cell diseases. He noted that although countries in the Africa region have made progress in collection of blood, the number of blood donations remains low in the region. In 2003,blood donations was about 3.9 million units which only cover about 50% of annual blood and blood products required by countries.  Currently, the national blood supplies in 24 countries are based on 80 to 100% voluntary unpaid blood donations. The World Health Organisation’s Country Director said the insufficiency of blood donations is often due to the lack of adequate infrastructure and limited qualified health workers and communication difficulties that hampers the organisation of blood collection. Donating blood is a selfless, noble gesture that gives back life and hope to patients, he said. The Acting Regional Health Director West Coast 2, Ms. Zandah Jarjue stated that every year, about 375 individuals in the West Coast Region roll up their sleeves and donate blood. She said from January to May 2015, the region has registered 125 voluntary donors and 484 donors that donate to their relatives directly.  In addition the total patients that required and received transfused were 611 out of which 427 were pregnancy related. She said blood donation benefit all types of patients from cancer and surgical patients, those with battle field injuries, pregnant women and children. “Severe bleeding during delivery and after childbirth is a major cause of maternal mortality, morbidity and long-term disability,” she said. She further stated that bleeding during and after delivery has contributed to 44% of maternal deaths in Africa. She noted that many of these deaths could be prevented, through the availability and timely access of blood. She pointed out that maternal and child health care is one of the major concerns placed high on the ministry’s agenda. The Deputy Governor Mr. Musa Amul Nyassi also called on people to donate blood to save lives. He challenges the Health Ministry to come up with incentives for blood donors for them to attract more volunteers. The Acting Director of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), Ansumana Sanneh, who was one time a blood donor, said through the support of the Sukuta Blood Donors Association, he benefitted from two piles of blood from them to save his life during the time he was sick in bed and needed blood transfusion. He called on people to donate blood and safe more lives. The event was chaired by the Director of Health Promotion and Education, Mr. Momodou Njai. The day was commemorated with a match past by various groups, drama and musical entertainment.]]>

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