The National Blood Service (NBS) has announced that Ghana is ready to prepare convalescent plasma (CP) from recovered COVID-19 patients for transfusion as an empirical treatment for persons in life-threatening stages of the infection.
The intervention is based on a research that patients who had recovered from disease outbreaks such as COVID-19 had a robust immune response to infections.
The antibodies in the plasma of recovered patients could, therefore, be transfused to other COVID-19 patients to aid their recovery from the infection.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Blood Service Dr Justina Ansah, disclosed this in Accra at an event held virtually to commemorate the 2020 World Blood Donor Day.
She therefore, encouraged all recovered COVID-19 patients to step forward and donate their plasma to save the lives of other patients in critical condition.
The day is observed annually on June 14 to express appreciation to voluntary unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gift of blood and to raise awareness on the global need for safe blood and how everyone can contribute.
This year’s day is on the theme ‘Safe Blood Saves Lives’, with the slogan ‘Give blood and make the world a healthier place’.
The event also witnessed the launch of a blood donation video, which would be showing on various channels to encourage more people to donate blood voluntarily.
Dr Ansah explained that the service was working with the Ministry of Health, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the COVID-19 Treatment Team to fight the pandemic.
"All the needed machines to aid the collections and protocols are available, but we are waiting for the funds to acquire the consumables to start.
“There is no vaccine yet so this is the only treatment and people are recovering worldwide through this medium,” she said.
Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Neema Rusibamayila Kimambo, commended voluntary blood donors for their continuous support to save lives.
However, she pointed out that the biggest challenge with the CP approach in many African countries was the insufficient resources of national blood services to safely collect, process and store this blood in a quality-assured manner.
"The current pandemic is also an opportunity to improve this situation. Kenya, for instance, has allocated a portion of funding from the World Bank specifically to improve blood services during the pandemic," she said.
According to her universal access to safe blood was a key component of a resilient health system and contributes to achieving universal health coverage.
She announced that WHO, was also exploring partnerships with Facebook to set up regional blood donations features, and 15 countries have expressed interest in piloting this tool.
She explained that this feature connects blood donors with nearby opportunity to donate in collaboration with approved blood banks.
Dr Kimambo appealed to government to collaborate with blood donor associations and non-governmental organisations to increase investment in blood transfusion services in line with WHO guidelines.