The Blood Donor in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review.
Tagny, C. T., Owusu-Ofori, S., Mbanya, D., et al. Transfusion Medicine (2010), Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 1–10.
Although voluntary, regular, non-remunerated blood donors (VNRD) form the “backbone” of a healthy blood supply, most transfusions in sub-Saharan Africa are done through family replacement donations. In some countries, as much as 70 percent of the blood supply comes through such donors; voluntary donors were found to represent less than half of blood donors in 15 of 38 countries in one study. VNRD tend to be male and younger, and the authors describe successful strategies for recruiting and retaining such donors in Ghana and Zimbabwe. The review includes estimates of HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C prevalence among repeat donors and first-time donors for 15 countries whose blood supply is comprised primarily of VNRD. The high prevalence of infectious disease in the region necessitates a strong blood screening program. This is a significant challenge, however, given infrastructure, financing, and cultural constraints in the region. The authors state that “more effort is required in the drive for education, motivation, and recruitment of regular donors,” and conclude that collaborating with international partners may be the key to making it happen.