The 3rd ECOWAS Regional Conference of the Africa Society for Blood Transfusion (AfSBT) took place on 19 and 20 November 2018 in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. The Conference was co-presented by the ECOWAS regional executives of the AfSBT in collaboration with the National Blood Service, Ghana (NBSG) and the Ghana Society of Haematology (GhaSH), under the auspices of the Ministry of Health, Ghana. The Conference took place at the plush 5-star Labadi Beach Hotel.
The 1st and 2nd Conferences were held in Nigeria in the cities of Lagos and Sagamu in 2011 and 2013, respectively. The decision to hold the 3rd Conference in Ghana was made in 2017 by Executives of the AfSBT, and it was accepted to organize it in Ghana, and in the same year as the Biennial Congress of AfSBT in order to encourage participation and further strengthen membership.
The Conference was held under the theme “Voluntary Unpaid Blood Donation: Requirement for Quality Health System”. The theme was carefully chosen to reflect the most important aspect of safe blood transfusion – the quality blood donor. The Conference provided a platform for interactions on pertinent topics in the field of Blood Transfusion, peculiar to the African setting.
Activities of the Conference included an opening session, six (6) scientific sessions – run in parallel, a welcome reception dinner, International Society for Blood Transfusion (ISBT) Academy Day, an exhibition, poster session and an AfSBT ECOWAS Regional Meeting. See appendix A for details of the Conference programme.
About 80 participants attended the Conference. This included people from academia, policy makers, program officers, clinicians, managers, and scientists from the Blood Services in West Africa. Conference discussions centered on a wide array of issues. The Conference aimed to better understand the dynamics surrounding voluntary blood donations, and deliberate on solutions and plans that will enable Blood Services in West African countries to meet the ever-increasing demand for blood.
This Conference ended with the beginning of a conversation (and debate) on the future of voluntary blood donations from the West African perspective by issuing a communique on achieving 100% voluntary blood donations in the region.
Opening plenary session
Moderated by Prof. Joseph A. K. Acquaye (former National Director of the National Blood Service, Ghana and a consultant heamatologist with the Haematology Department of the University of Ghana Medical School)
Keynote address was delivered by Prof. Ivy Adwowa Efiefi Ekem (Consultant Haematologist with the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital and Dean, Associate Professor of Haematology School of Medical Sciences, College of Health and Allied Sciences, University of Cape Coast).
Keynote lectures were delivered by Prof. Aba Omotunde Sagoe (Consultant Haematologist, DSc. (Hon), MB.BS, PhD. Dip Immunology, FMCPath, FWACP and a member of the Board of Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, IHVN and the International Research Centre of Excellence, IRCE in Abuja Nigeria) and Prof. James O. Adewuyi (Professor of Haematology, Department of Haematology and Blood Transfusion, University of Ilorin, Ilorin Nigeria).
The Conference was attended by a total of 80 participants from ten (10) African countries (Figure 1). See appendix B for full list of participants. A total of 27 abstracts were submitted for the Conference, out of which 15 and 12 were accepted for oral and poster presentations respectively. Out of the 15 abstracts accepted for oral presentation, 13 (86.7%) were presented by 11 investigators who attended the Conference. 9 of the 12 abstracts accepted for poster (75%) were presented during the Conference’s poster session.
The Conference was co-hosted by the National Blood Service, Ghana and the Ghana Society of Haematology.
An 8-member local organizing committee (LOC) was constituted (with members from both organizations) to plan and organize the Conference. Members of the LOC are;
- Mrs. Mavis Okyere NBSG, Vice Chair ECOWAS
- Mrs. Sheila Allotey NBSG, ECOWAS Treasurer
- Dr. Nana Agyeiwah Awuku Haematologist, GhaSH , Member
- Dr. Dela Fiawoo Haematologist, GhaSH, Member
- Abubakari Murtala Mohammed Finance Manager, NBSG Member
- Mr. Emmanuel Nene Dei Research Officer, NBSG Member
- Mr. Simon Kofi Manu Biomedical Scientist, NBSG. Member
- Mr. Lawrence Terkper Quality Officer, NBSG, Member
The following international and local organizations supported and sponsored the organization of the Conference;
- International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT)
- MTN Ghana
- Lynch Medical Services Ltd.
- DCL Laboratory Products Ltd.
- Greenland Medical Supplies Ltd.
- MDS Lancet Laboratories
- Alvitrak Ghana Limited
- Investrade International Company Ltd.
The Conference ended with a meeting by all participants. The meeting agenda included membership drive. There is the need to get practitioners in blood transfusion in the region to become members.
The conference was well attended. The keynote address and lectures as well as the discussions agreed strongly with the theme that voluntary unpaid blood donation is required for quality healthcare.
The conference suggests that a comprehensive approach needs to be used for this to be achieved. Member countries were encouraged to ensure they identify all appropriate stakeholders with support from respective governments.
The next ECOWAS conferences will be held in Burkina Fasso in 2019.