The National Blood Service (NBS) has observed the eighteenth edition of the National Blood Donor Day with the launch of the 2020 blood donor campaign.
The celebration which is a significant occasion for the country seeks to raise awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products and also to acknowledge the voluntary unpaid blood donors for their life saving gift of blood.
It was on the theme; "Blood Donation and Universal Access to Safe Blood Transfusion as a Component of Achieving Universal Health Coverage" with "Safe blood for all" as the slogan for the year.
Dr Justina Kordai Ansah, Chief Executive Officer, National Blood Service, said the theme was timely because universal access to safe blood transfusion meant ensuring everyone had access to adequate blood and blood components which were of sufficient quality without socio- cultural, gender- related and financial barriers.
She mentioned that geographic and financial access to adequate and safe blood remained a critical challenge to most individuals and communities.
Dr Ansah said recognising these challenges, her outfit was implementing a National Blood Supply Strengthening Programme (NBSSP), with the aim of increasing access to safe and quality blood service in the country.
She disclosed that, the NBSSP targeted increasing the proportion of voluntary blood donations from its current low level of 37 per cent to 75 per cent within the short to medium term.
She explained that, the NBSSP's key performance was to expand blood service infrastructure, intensify advocacy and collecting blood from voluntary unpaid donors as well as to deepen collaboration with other stakeholders to improve voluntary blood donation.
Dr Ansah therefore congratulated the individual donors and institutions awarded for their commitment to humanity and valuable role as active agents in health promotion and also for "saving and improving the lives of so many patients who they don't even know".
Mr Kweku Agyemang Manu, the Minister of Health, in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Patrick Yaw Boamah, the Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, said the country is faced with a challenge with regards to accessing safe blood and blood products and adequacy of blood, hence, the need to regard blood transfusion as the major component to universal health coverage.
He said efforts were being made to curtail the challenges facing the blood service and urged citizens to be committed to donating blood voluntarily to ensure a universal access to safe blood transfusion.
He said if there is availability of safe blood for transfusion for all, maternal deaths, accidents and other related issues would be a thing of the past.
"We need to increase our voluntary donor base nationwide and encourage especially the youth and replacement donors to become regular, repeated voluntary donors", he stated.
The Health Minister urged donors to encourage friends, family and community members to become regular blood donors as well as to support blood donor activities locally.
He explained that to achieve the universal and timely access to safe blood transfusion, the blood service should intensify blood drive activities in schools, churches, market places adding that they should also advocate for a year round donation to maintain adequate blood supplies.
Mr Agyemang Manu pledged government's unflinching support to the National Blood Service with resources and infrastructure to facilitate voluntary blood donation and also to improve the availability of safe blood especially in the hard to reach areas to save lives.
Some individuals, Senior High, Tertiary and faith based institutions were acknowledged for their tremendous support to the NBS by donating pints of blood over the past year.
The best three national donors for the year 2019 were Mr Obed Nana Addo who emerged first with 58 units of blood, Mr Daniel Adotei Bulley placed second position with 57 units of blood and Robert Ayivor placed third with 54 units of blood.
They all took home a citation, a double decker fridge, a chest freezer and a thirty two inch LG LED Television respectively.
The third regional best award place went to Madam Felicia Owusu Addo with forty two units of blood, Mr Samuel Essuman with fifty units of blood and the winner, Mr Mohammed Rabiu Lasisi with 51 units of blood.
They were also awarded with a citation each, a pressing iron for the third place, a gas cylinder for the second place and a cooker for the winner.
The best youth donor was Mr Jeffrey Nii Commey, he won the category with 29 units of blood and took away a citation and a home theatre set.
Fransisca Adalbert won the best female donor with twenty six units of blood and was awarded with a citation and a microwave oven.
Other special awards were given to institutions such as the Silver Star Automobile Ghana Limited, Kaysens Group of Companies, Catholic Arch Diocese of Accra, the MTN Ghana Foundation, Blood Vine Ghana, Ahamadiyah Muslim Mission, Ghana and the Food and Drugs Authority.
The senior, tertiary and the faith based institutions were, the Osu-Doku Senior High School, Ada Secondary Technical School, Achimota School, Ghana Institute of Journalism, Accra Technical University, Presbyterian Church of Ghana and the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC).
The annual event is organised by the National Blood Service under the patronage of the Rotary Clubs of Accra and Accra- Ridge to publicly acknowledge and appreciate regular voluntary unpaid blood donors and other stakeholders for their contribution and commitment to a safe, adequate and sustainable blood supply system in the country.