As Cameroon observes the 20th World Blood Donor Day, the Director of the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) says 147,043 pints of blood were collected in Cameroon in 2022.
This figures represents a 5% increase from 140,207 pints collected in 2021. Regarding the regions, 36,834 pints of blood were collected in the three Northern regions which has an annual need of 145,878 pints. The Centre, South and East regions brought in 43,821 pints and 66,379 pints of blood were collected in the grass field and Littoral regions.
All pints of blood collected in 2022 came from 473 health structures supervised by the NBTS.
Although the blood donation rate in Cameroon shows an increase, health experts say blood collected is still way below the 400,000 pints required yearly. For the blood needs to be met, the World Health Organization (WHO) says one to three percent of the population must be blood donors. WHO recommends 10 donors for every 1000 people.
Blood donation has not been effective in regions hit by crises. According to WHO, insecurity in the North West and South West regions and the COVID 19 pandemic has greatly hindered the work of the NBTS.
While speaking at a ceremony to mark the 20th World Blood Donor Day in Yaounde on June 14, Public Health Minister, Dr. Manaouda Malachie called on Cameroonians to be patriotic and donate blood to safe lives.
The 20th World Blood Donor Day is holding on the theme “Give blood, give plasma, share life, share often.” World Blood Donor Day is a time to appreciate donors for their life-saving sacrifices and encourage others to join the train. The day also unites blood donor associations, health personnel and communities to improve efforts to step up donation.
Benefits of Donating Blood
Health experts in Cameroon say 782 infant deaths are recorded for every 100,000 live births. In addition, about 46.5% of maternal deaths linked to blood shortage occur yearly.Three out of five children aged 6-59 months also suffer from anemia, and require a blood transfusion. Road accidents have increased from 937 deaths in 2020, to 1000 in first 7 months of 2021.
These lives could have been saved through transfusion, but the Director General of the National Blood Transfusion Service, Prof. Dora Mbanya says
“there is still a huge gap to fill as far as blood donation is concerned.”
Dozens of Cameroonians who have donated blood between 15-41 times received certificates of appreciation during the ceremony to mark the World Blood Donor Day in Yaounde.
Aside this benefit, Prof. Dora says blood donors enjoy many other benefits.
“When you are a blood donor, you feel very satisfied when you hear statistics of those dying from lack of blood. You feel very fulfilled and satisfied that you are contributing in some way to save people’s lives. You benefit from a free health screening. The bone marrow from where the blood is collected rejuvenates progressively and you feel rejuvenated. That is a huge health advantage.”
To meet up with the current demand for blood, the National Blood Transfusion Service organized a three-week blood donation campaign with the goal of collecting up to 3000 pints of blood to mark the 20th World Blood Donor Day.
The experts have been collecting blood at the esplanade of the Yaounde Multipurpose Sports Complex as part of activities to mark the international observance.
Who can donate blood ?
According to health experts, blood donors should be aged between 18 years and 60 years with a weight of at least 50kg. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are exempted from donating blood. Health experts also have to evaluate the overall well-being of the blood donor.
Cameroon is poised to meet current blood demands, health experts say the available pints of blood can not meet the needs. Cameroonians eligible to donate blood have been called to join the train that is saving lives.
Kathy Neba Sina