The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 30th January 2020 and a pandemic on 11th March 2020. The World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General requested all countries to adopt a “Whole-of-Government, Whole- of-Society” approach built around a comprehensive strategy to prevent infections, save lives and minimize the impact.
In the WHO African Region (AFR), and consistent with the situation globally, all faces of the society – health, security, political, economic and social – continue to be negatively impacted by the pandemic. In the health sector, the pre-existing fragile health systems were overwhelmed with the surge in cases at the peak of the outbreak. The continuity of essential health services has also been disrupted in many African countries resulting from an imbalance of the demand and supply factors. The most common services affected include routine immunization, facility-based services for non-communicable diseases, antenatal care, family planning and contraception, among others.
The size and evolution of the virus, expanding knowledge on its transmissibility and the countries’ gradual return to the ‘new normal’ signals a reinforcement and sustenance of the efforts to contain the pandemic. Given this context, AFR is engaging in global and regional efforts to support the Member States and partners in improving productivity, efficiency and attaining a sustainable approach to managing a protracted COVID-19 pandemic.
Blood donation has fallen by 17% in the African region in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused widespread disruptions to key health services, lives and livelihoods.
World Blood Donor Day is marked today. An analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that the frequency of blood drives in the African region has dropped by 25% and demand for blood declined by 13%, with the suspension of routine surgeries in some countries and fewer people seeking care in health facilities. Around 7 million people need blood transfusion every year in the region.
This year’s World Blood Donor Day is marked under the theme “Give blood and keep the world beating” to highlight the essential contribution blood donors make to save lives and improve the health of others.
“Disruptions to the steady supply of safe blood can be life threatening. We deeply appreciate the selfless, lifesaving gesture of blood donors and urge countries to set up and reinforce systems to increase voluntary blood donations,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
WHO is collaborating with organizations such as the Coalition of Blood for Africa—launched in November 2020—the Organization of African First Ladies for Development and the private sector to improve access to quality blood supplies.
In partnership with Facebook, WHO has set up a Regional Blood Donations feature, which connects people with nearby blood banks. The tool is now live in 12 countries and over 3.8 million Facebook users have signed up to be notified of blood donation opportunities.
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