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Blood aid to Sierra Leone may have saved over 17,000 children’s lives
A VITAL supply of blood bags to Sierra Leone funded by the Irish public may have saved the lives of over 17,000 children last month, according to Concern Worldwide.
The Irish humanitarian organisation used €50,000 in public donations to provide a short-term solution to a severe shortage of blood donation and transfusion equipment in the West African nation in late December.
Concern provided 5,800 blood bags for use in maternal and child emergencies and blood testing equipment that hospitals needed to take blood donations and keep their patients alive over the last four weeks.
“Thanks to the Irish public we were able to deliver a two-month supply of blood donation and transfusion materials,” said Concern’s Country Director in Sierra Leone, Davina Jeffery.
“This critical intervention has potentially saved the lives of over 17,000 children or more than 5,000 women.
“On a normal day Sierra Leone can provide around 15 per cent of the blood needed for health service delivery. However due to the supplies crisis this was reduced to 0 per cent so we had to do something.
“There was a delay in procuring blood bags and safe screening kits for hepatitis and syphilis so we acted quickly to assist the National Safe Blood Service in the country.”
Each specialist blood bag Concern donated can hold 450ml (a unit of blood) and contains an anti-coagulant to prevent the blood clotting.
They used local suppliers already approved by the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and also provided blood group kits and test items that reduce complications during transfusion.
Senior doctors and health officials have thanked Concern and the Irish public for their support.
“These supplies arrived when we were completely out of stock and our services were incapacitated,” said Dr Songor Koedoyoma, the Medical Superintendent at the Kambia Government hospital in the north of the country.
“We had completely lost capacity to provide blood services. I want to say thank you on behalf of the people of Kambia.”
“Some facilities had already started to report maternal deaths due to a lack of these supplies,” said Osman Kargbo, the Senior Medical Laboratory Technologist at Sierra Leone’s National Safe Blood Service.
“On behalf of the Ministry of Health and the National Safe Blood Service I want to say thank you.”
Concern has worked with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and the National Safe Blood Service for the last three years to improve services and will continue to provide support.
In Sierra Leone 46 per cent of the estimated 443 annual maternal deaths in the country are due to excessive bleeding, which is 19 per cent higher than the global average.
In addition to supporting women with complications during childbirth, safe blood services are essential in emergency services, surgery, and the treatment of anaemia, sickle cell disease and malaria which continue to be among the most common underlying causes of death in children in Sierra Leone.
For more information please contact Kevin Jenkinson at email@example.com.
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