Blood donation has fallen by 17% in the African region in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that has caused widespread disruptions to key health services, lives and livelihoods.
World Blood Donor Day is marked today. An analysis by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that the frequency of blood drives in the African region has dropped by 25% and demand for blood declined by 13%, with the suspension of routine surgeries in some countries and fewer people seeking care in health facilities. Around seven million people need blood transfusion every year in the region.
This year’s World Blood Donor Day is marked under the theme ‘Give blood and keep the world beating’ to highlight the essential contribution blood donors make to save lives and improve the health of others.
“Disruptions to the steady supply of safe blood can be life threatening. We deeply appreciate the selfless, lifesaving gesture of blood donors and urge countries to set up and reinforce systems to increase voluntary blood donations,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
WHO is collaborating with organisations such as the Coalition of Blood for Africa—launched in November 2020—the Organization of African First Ladies for Development and the private sector to improve access to quality blood supplies.
In partnership with Facebook, WHO has set up a Regional Blood Donations feature, which connects people with nearby blood banks. The tool is now live in 12 countries and over 3.8 million Facebook users have signed up to be notified of blood donation opportunities.