- Africans from the West and Central Africa recently gathered in the Ghanaian capital Accra and discussed on crucial role of developing voluntary blood donor programs in the continent.
Organised by Safe Blood for Africa Foundation's multi-country training program, the back-to-back workshops were held in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ghana's Ministry of Health, among others.
"This program will save lives by increasing the availability of blood, and reducing the risk of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases in transfused blood," said the chairman of Safe Blood for Africa, Jeff Busch, tapping the donors on the back for "providing funding for us to conduct these programs in areas of Africa which have historically received little support for blood safety initiatives."
These workshops are "precedent-setting" as they brought together decision makers, blood service directors and blood donor recruitment staff from the 16 represented countries. Fifty-seven participants attended, many of whom had little opportunity for such specific training and to interact with professionals from other countries.
It is also the first in a series of such programs on key blood safety skills development being conducted by Safe Blood for Africa Foundation's African Multi-Country Training Programme.
Diane De Coning, an internationally recognised expert in blood donor recruitment who conducted the workshops, said, "Delegate response was tremendous. Key donor recruitment staff shared common challenges in recruiting and retaining adequate numbers of voluntary blood donors.
"We identified priorities for the region, including the need for an African Blood Donor Association and ready access to much needed and requested generic promotional material for adaptation by local blood transfusion services. Implementing the strategies developed at these workshops will have a major impact in meeting the demand for a safe and adequate blood supply in the participating countries. Additional capacity building and resources are desperately required, but this was a phenomenal way to start."
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