On Wednesday June 21st 2017 the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and partners conducted a national blood drive to help replenish the country’s blood stocks, and save lives. Access to blood is critical to save the lives of women who experience haemorrhage during or after childbirth; sick children and babies; victims of road traffic accidents and disasters; and patients with cancer, thalassaemia, sickle cell disease and many other conditions.
Sierra Leone faces severe shortages of voluntary blood donations, which are currently meeting just 15 percent of patients’ blood needs. The World Health Organization recommends that all countries aim for 100 percent blood supply coming from voluntary donors as this has been shown to be the safest, most sustainable way of ensuring patients have access to blood when they need it.
“Just ten minutes of your time can give someone a lifetime,” said Osman Kabia, Community Engagement Lead at the World Health Organization. “Donating blood is safe, quick and easy and you will be sure to save someone’s life. Please don’t hesitate. This simple act can really be the difference between life and death for someone in need.”
There is a constant need for regular blood supply because blood can be stored for only a limited time before use. Regular blood donations by a sufficient number of healthy people are necessary to ensure that safe blood will be available whenever and wherever it is needed.
“This blood drive is desperately necessary,” said Professor Gevao from the National Blood Services Programme at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. “People lose their lives because of lack of access to blood. This is especially true for women who have difficulties in childbirth and sick children, but also for people who are in road accidents and other emergencies. We encourage everyone to take part in their nearest donation this Wednesday and give someone a chance at life.”
A representative from Sierra Leone’s National Association of Voluntary Blood Donors Desmond Lewis gave his 100th pint of blood on the occasion of Salone's Blood Donor Day, and encourages everyone over the age of 17 to give just one pint. “Many people feel nervous before they donate blood for the first time,” he said. “However, you will only feel a slight pinch, and your life-giving donation is complete in 10 minutes or less. You’ll find the impact of your courageous act—saving a life—extremely rewarding, compared to a split-second pinch of the skin.”
“Anyone who has received a blood transfusion or whose family has received blood will testify to the importance of regular voluntary blood giving and the difference it can make.”
As part of the national event, donation sites were set up in all 14 districts. The programme also aimed to promote regular giving. In Sierra Leone, it is possible to donate blood throughout the year at the major hospitals with men able to donate every three months and every four months for women.