North West Regional Blood Bank Struggles with Blood Shortage as the Escalating Anglophone Crisis Worsen.

There is an urgent need for blood donation at the Bamenda Regional hospital blood bank due to an increase in emergency cases resulting from the escalating violence in the North West Region. Most blood donors have fled the region for security reasons. This was revealed by Dr. Ako Atabong Fidelis, the chief of service of the Bamenda Regional hospital’s blood bank during activities marking this year’s World Blood Donor Day on the 14th, June 2019, at the hospital premises.

Under the theme “Blood Donation and Universal Access to Safe Blood Transfusion as Component of Universal Health Coverage”, with the slogan “Safe Blood for All” the Regional Hospital organized a three-day sensitization/blood donation campaign to create awareness on the importance of blood donation.

Dr Ako Atabong

According to Dr. Ako Atabong, satisfying the need for blood by patients at the hospital and beyond has been a difficult task since the crisis started – causing more people to lose their lives which is why more donors are needed.
“Organizing the blood donation campaign this year has been challenging as we had to reduce the number of campaign days which does not permit us to collect the quantity of blood needed.” Added Dr. Ako

The act of donating blood has always been accompanied by mixed feelings from individuals as some think it is risky but to others, it is a gift of life.

Shalom Sendze is a businessman and says blood donation is a very important aspect of the health sector which many people either neglect or are not well educated upon till maybe they find themselves in a needy situation.
“I believe it is very important to always do a blood donation whenever you are healthy and always follow the rules laid down by the doctors. In as much as one may feel it isn’t important, the significance of blood donation only hits someone on the day one finds he or she is in dire need of blood transfusion and it is unavailable. I always try to make sure I do a blood donation whenever I can – at least after every three months because I believe the blood stored can help someone in need and in an emergency” Added Shalom Sendze

According to Epie Kepche Gerard, a public health expert, many persons are in need of blood due to an illness or accident. “It is not true that donating blood is risky because they will run several tests on you – if there is any sign your life might be in danger, the health care team will restraint from bleeding you. Not everyone can give blood at a particular time as there are eligibility criteria. I was disqualified once because my hemoglobin was too low.” Added Epie

Odette Yensi, on the other hand, says she has never donated blood before. “I have not had the opportunity to do so but besides that, I fear it is risky.” She concluded.

In this regard, Dr. Ako Atabong says health personnel at the blood bank follow the different criteria strictly to make sure no one goes into crisis while donating blood.
“A donor should be in good health and should not weigh less than 50kg – he or she should have a good quantity of blood. A female donor should have at least 12 grams per deciliters of hemoglobin which indicates, she will not go into crisis during the process. We also take the vital signs of the donor to make sure he or she is not hypertensive or hypotensive – so we don’t accept people who are hypertensive or diabetic to give blood because they can easily go into shock. We make sure to screen donors for any disease – we ask questions on behavioral patterns. For example, we don’t allow smokers or heavy alcohol consumers to donate blood because it won’t be healthy as it might worsen the situation of the patient who receives the blood. There is another criterion for women – If the woman is menstruating, we don’t allow her to donate blood as she is already losing blood so she might become a patient herself in the process. Also if the woman is breastfeeding or had a pre-term abortion, she is not allowed to donate blood.” Dr. Ako added

Donating blood is an important component of the Universal Health Coverage which will enable people to access health care services at any time – therefore to achieve this, the blood bank has to receive 18,000 donations per year.

For the North West blood bank to survive, healthy Northwesterners have to donate more blood.

This year’s world blood donor day is dedicated to the recognition of those who voluntarily donate blood to save lives.

Maikem Emmanuela

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