The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on Wednesday, handed over the Ghana Blood Safety Programme, to the Ministry of Health (MOH) at a ceremony in Accra for its sustainability.
The event, was to formally bring to an end the JICA project on the routine use of the Terumo BCT Mirasol Pathogen Reduction Technology (PRT) System, and the implementation of a Haemovigilance programme in Ghana.
Dr Justina Kordai Ansah, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Blood Service Ghana (NBSG), said the programme, followed the licencing of the Mirasol Whole Blood (WB) system for use by the Ghana Food and Drug Authority in August 2016, after the African Investigation of the Mirasol System (AIMS) study was completed in Kumasi in 2014.
The project was then adopted for sponsorship by JICA in collaboration with the Terumo Corporation of Japan, to support sustainable Blood Safety by reducing the risk of transfusion reaction with the implementation of the Mirasol WB system in conjunction with the creation of an infrastructure for Hemovigilance programme.
The Technology, she said, ensured protection against a broad number of pathogens including HIV, hepatitis and malaria, and the NBSG has since been able to implement the Mirasol PRT technology in the Southern and Central Blood Centres to provide safer blood for vulnerable patients both at the Korle-Bu and Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals.
She said the objective of the NBSG was to provide a reliable, adequate and safe supply of blood nationwide, as the MOH worked on a Blood Service bill, to back the provision of blood services in the country.
Dr Ansah said the programme, had seen the significant training of a number of Ghanaian healthcare professionals in both Ghana and in Japan for sustainability.
Nana Kwabena Agyei, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Health (MOH), representing Mr Kwaku Agyemen-Manu, the Minister, commended the NBSG for conceiving the idea and engaging various partners and stakeholders to bring it to fruition.
He admitted that the safety, availability and affordability of blood was key to effective health care delivery and the attainment of Universal Health Coverage, and appealed to the public to support voluntary blood donations to enable the NBSG achieve 100 per cent voluntary unpaid donations by the end of 2020.
He stated saying blood and its components have been recently added to the seventh edition of the Standard Treatment Guidelines and Essential Medicines List in Ghana as recommended by the WHO, and pledged the Ministry’s commitment to championing the use of technologies for improving health services across the country, with limited risk of infections that could be transmitted through a blood transfusion.
Nana Agyei said the Ministry was committed to purchasing 20,000-dollar worth of disposables in 2018, to sustain the programme, and proceed to expand the programme in 2019 to include; the Northern Zonal blood centres in Tamale, he said.
He also said a budget of between 300,000 and 400,000 dollars per year, would be allocated for the next five years, to purchase equipment, disposables and provide maintenance for the installed equipment to support the sustainability of the programme.
Nana Agyei said Ghana currently collected approximately 6.1 units of whole blood for every 1,000 inhabitants, which was just a little over the current estimated minimal need recommended by the WHO, saying up to 50 per cent of those who received blood transfusions were pregnant women, postpartum women, children and infants.
Therefore improving blood safety and sustainability could enable the government meet health targets, including global goals, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), and national goals such as maternal and child health, reduction in transmission of malaria and other communicable diseases or enabling the possibilities of health tourism.
Mr Koji Tomita, the Deputy Chief of Mission Counsellor at the Japan Embassy, and Mr Shin Kuroda, the Advisor of Terumo Corporation in Japan, thanked the collaborators for the success of the project and urged NBSG to ensure the proper maintenance of the equipment for safe, effective, and efficient blood supply to Ghanaians.
Mr Tomita assured Ghana of the sustained support from the Japanese Government both in the health and other sectors of the country.
Ms Naki Ozawa, Senior Representative of JICA, said the project was not to merely introduce Japanese equipment to Ghana, but promote blood safety using well developed technology which had been scientifically proven to be effective.