The Greater Accra Regional Hospital says it has put in new measures to flush out blood contractors involved in illegal blood sale businesses.
The measure comes after a JoyNews and Corruption Watch expose revealed how a syndicate, operating at the National Blood Service at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and Ridge Hospital trade blood to patients who are in desperate need of blood at exorbitant prices.
Many have shared chilling accounts of how they have lost their loved ones because they could not obtain blood to save them.
Regular blood donors have complained of being neglected when they were genuinely and urgently in need of blood to save the lives of their relatives.
But speaking, during a donation drive in Accra, the Medical Director of Ridge Hospital, Dr Emmanuel Srofenyo, condemned the act and emphasised that patients are not supposed to make payments for blood.
He added that the outfit is taking measures to avoid administering blood that has not gone through screening from unknown facilities.
According to him, “we only charge for the processing fee, and that is the fee that covers the test that are done, the groupings that were done on the blood.”
“I want to emphasise the fact that blood is not for sale. I don’t even feel comfortable when patients come and tell me that I bought the blood. No, it’s not for sale; it’s a free gift of nature, you can only pay for the processing fee. So we have to work against people trying to enter that space and do business there.
“That is why we have cut out all those people who are into that. When you don’t get the blood from a recognised hospital-like from our blood bank or other sister institutions, we wouldn’t even give it to you because we cannot guarantee its safety, and that’s the precaution we are putting in place,” he said.
The JoyNews investigations uncovered that at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, a staff collected GH¢300 for a pint of blood while the syndicate leader operating within the National Blood Service at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital demanded GH¢750 for a pint of blood.
But Dr Srofenyo cautioned patients to be wary whenever they are in desperate need of blood for their relatives because “when something is scarce, people try to take advantage of the fact that it is scarce.”
“Sometimes when we ask relatives to bring family members to come and donate blood, they go to town and look for people who are now going into this as a business…these people say that ‘I can get you one pint of blood, bring this money.’ Wherever they go to get the blood, we don’t know, and how safe it is, we don’t know.”
In Ghana, six out of every 1,000 population donate blood instead of a minimum of 10 people.
According to the National Blood Bank, the national voluntary blood donation rate has steeply declined from 34 per cent of total blood donation in 2019 to 17 per cent in 2020.
Over the same period, the percentage of voluntary donations collected by the blood centres in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale recorded a decline from 52 per cent in 2019 to 24 per cent in 2020.
Shortage of blood puts many families in distress, especially when the blood needed is rare.