JICA supports Ghana to make blood safer

By
Kwamina Tandoh/Caroline Pomeyie, GNA

Accra, Sept. 1, GNA – The Japan International
Cooperation Agency (JICA) is supporting Ghana to make transfused blood safer
under a US$500,000 technology programme with the National Blood Service (NBS).

Under the Programme, equipment would be sited
at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra and the Komfo Anokye Teaching
Hospital at Kumasi, to efficiently screen blood to prevent the transmission of
HIV, syphilis and malaria to patients.

The Ministry of Health and the NBS have
partnered JICA and the TERUMO Blood Management Company to execute the two-year
programme, which takes off this year.

The respective partners, consequently, on
Wednesday, signed an agreement at a ceremony in Accra, towards the
implementation of the programme.

The programme, dubbed, “The Reduction of the
Risk Transfusion Transmitted Infection (TTI) with Haemovigilance
Infrastructure”, involves a technology developed to reduce the risk of
transmission of infectious agents through blood transfusion.

TERUMO is deploying the Mirasol WB system with
a functional Haemovigilance Infrastructure, as well as experts for the
programme. They would train local managers to eventually manage the programme.

The Mirasol Pathogen Reduction Technology
reduces the risk of infection or side effects from blood transfusion by using
riboflavin (vitamin B2), a naturally occurring, non-toxic compound, combined
with ultraviolet light, to provide effective reduction of viruses.

The Mirasol process also leads to white cell
inactivation.  

In a speech, read on his behalf at the
ceremony, Mr Kaoru Yoshimura, the Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, reiterated
Japan’s commitment to supporting Ghana’s health sector.

He said TERUMO was a renowned global leader in
blood component, therapeutic apheresis, and cellular technologies.

He said it had to its credit a unique
combination of apheresis collections, manual and automated whole blood
processing, and pathogen reduction technologies.

Mr Yoshimura expressed his contentment that
the implementation of the programme would involve the training of domestic
experts to take over from their foreign counterparts.  

Mr Alex Segbefia, the Minister of Health,
urged the public to voluntarily donate blood to help save lives.

He commended Japan’s commitment to support the
health sector, which dates back to the establishment Noguchi Memorial Institute
for Medical Research.

He said Japan had provided various
contributions to Ghana’s health sector through technical cooperation and grant
contributions, as well as multilateral channels to strengthen the Health
Service.

He said JICA was responsible for putting up 64
Community-based Health Planning Service Compounds in the Upper West Region,
which had helped to galvanise the health structure.

“We are aware that recently Japan has come up
with a novel way of conducting heart surgeries through the veins which means
that heart patients stay shorter in hospital, intrusions in terms of the
operation are made easier and the effects are more long lasting,” he said.

Mr Segbefia appealed to Japan to assist Ghana
to train its medical surgeons in such innovative technological procedures.

“We will be happy to send our Surgeons if the
need be to go and learn the techniques and get hold of the machineries that
perform these surgeries because as a country we are beginning to see a rise in
non-communicable disease, kidney issues, high blood pressure, diabetes and
heart failure, cancer,” he said.

Mr Norihito Yonebayashi a Senior
Representative of JICA said the Agency aimed at supporting the dissemination of
the expertise of Japanese enterprises, technology, knowledge and systems, which
had been confirmed to be effective in solving socioeconomic challenges of
developing countries.

GNA

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