More Blood Donors Needed As Gambia Commemorate World Blood Donor Day

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
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
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.