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Staff Voices: UNODC Ethiopia rolls up sleeves for blood donation 

Addis Ababa, 25 May 2020 - According to various studies in Sub-Saharan Africa, the availability of blood still remains inadequate to meet the increased demand for blood and blood components.

Societal misconceptions and low public awareness on blood and blood donations, have been some of the factors preventing voluntary blood donations in countries. Ethiopia is no exception, and with a population of over 100 million people, the demand for blood is high.

The Ethiopian National Blood Bank collects nearly 200,000 units of blood from donors annually, which is an equivalent of 200,000 pints/94,000 litres. The country requires 18,000 units of blood (18,000 pints/8,460 litres) daily, yet the average daily amount collected is approximately 1,100 units (1,100 pints/517 litres) – a shortfall of 16,900 pints/7943 litres. 

It is against this background that Abraham Ayalew, Benjamin Mirichi, Meron Gebreegziabher and Ermiyas Kostre - four staff members from the UNODC Programme Office in Ethiopia-donated four units of blood at the Ethiopia National Blood Bank Service headquarters in Addis Ababa.

With each unit of blood donated being able to be divided into three primary components (red blood cells, plasma, and platelets), potentially saving up to three lives, the 4 pints/1.88 litres donation by Abraham, Benjamin, Meron and Ermiyas has the potential to support the treatment of up to 12 patients in need of blood. 

An average healthy person is able to donate approximately 1 unit/470ml of whole blood at a go. This represents approximately 9% of the average adult’s blood volume of 4.5 – 5.7 litres. This volume is replaced by the body within 24 to 48 hours, with the red blood cells replaced between 10 to 12 weeks. Blood donations can therefore be carried out every 2 to 3 months. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for blood donations to address potential shortages in blood supply not just for COVID-19 related medical requirements but other current, immediate and future medical conditions.

Abraham, Benjamin, Meron and Ermiyas had a simple message for this worthwhile exercise - Volunteer today, save a life!

For blood donations in Ethiopia

Contact: Ethiopian National Blood Bank, +251 (0) 11 515 1558

Staff Voices story by Benjamin Mirichi first published on the United Nations iSeek intranet

Related link

UNODC in Ethiopia