Tendai Rupapa in NEW YORK, United States
Vice president of the African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has expressed concern over the rising rate of maternal mortality in Africa.
She attributed the cause of maternal mortality largely to severe bleeding during delivery or after childbirth, conditions that can be prevented.
According to statistics, one in 22 women dies in Africa due to post-partum haemorrhage (PPH).
Amai Mnangagwa, who is also the country’s Health and Child Care Ambassador, said blood availability was a critical public health concern, requiring key stakeholders to come together and propose solutions to increase research, investment and resources for a safe and sustainable blood supply in Africa.
OAFLAD has partnered with a blood management company, Terumo BCT, to raise awareness and mobilise stakeholders on the importance of ensuring adequate, safe and sustainable blood for Africa’s mothers.
On Wednesday, the company hosted a panel discussion here on the importance of blood for Africa’s mothers.
The discussion included key stakeholders in the health sector; the World Health Organisation, the Global Blood Fund, doctors, private sector and policy makers.
In her address, Amai Mnangagwa said blood was a vital health care resource.
“Despite blood and safe transfusion services comprising essential parts of any strong health system, most African countries do not explicitly reference blood safety, sustainability or availability in their health programmes,” she said.
“As a result, most African countries fall well short of the WHO recommended levels of blood required to sustain our health systems.
“While the First Ladies of Africa continue to work tirelessly towards reducing the high rates of maternal, neonatal and child mortality and morbidity rates across our continent, we recognise that the lack of infrastructure and equipment for collection and processing of blood components are key impediments to achieving public health goals in Africa, particularly those related to maternal and child health.”
The First Lady said the diversity represented on the panel was testimony that there was need for a multi-stakeholder approach to address blood shortages in Africa.
Terumo BCT chief executive Ms Antoinette Garwin said saving lives was a joint responsibility, requiring commitment, expertise and capacity.
“I applaud the First Ladies who have stepped up and our panel is a call to action for all stakeholders to do more. Terumo BCT is committed to building the capacity of communities to ensure an adequate, safe and sustainable blood supply,” she said.
“We deal with over 130 countries and work with blood systems all over the world. We continue to explore and finding ways to address this challenge.
“We have technology and innovation, but innovation without access is really meaningless. We have to discuss on how we can make things accessible and affordable.
“The areas we invest in starts with donor recruitment campaigns.”
Global Blood Fund executive director Mr Garvin Evans said; “Blood is an essential medicine and everyone deserves access to primary health care.
“Maternal death is a national disaster as it leads to loss of breadwinners leaving families exposed to poverty therefore our organisation’s aim is to save lives by improving the availability and safety of blood.”