Transfusion medicine

Use of blood in low resource countries

In resource-limited countries, i.e. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), cost of transfusions is paramount. Most blood services are hospital-based and collect less than 10,000 units per year. “There is a great need for more donors, both volunteer non-remumerated blood donors and family/replacement donors.” said Dr Jean-Pierre Allain (University of Cambridge, UK) in a Hematology-in-focus session.

In SSA, 50-80% of the transfusions are for severe hemorrhage in women from pregnancy and childbirth, obstetric death, anemia due to malaria (about 70% of transfusions given to children in SSA), and trauma from road traffic accidents. Whole blood is indicated in more than 50% of cases and is cheap. Testing for HIV and hepatitis B and C is more driven by cost than by performance. “Pathogen reduction would be a major step towards safer blood.”