Blood transfusion in sub-Saharan Africa: understanding the missing gap and responding to present and future challenges

L. Barro, V.J. Drew, G.G. Poda, C.T. Tagny, M. El-Ekiaby, S. Owusu-Ofori, T. Burnouf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Blood transfusion in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is at a crossroad. Significant recent developments may help meet local needs in safe blood products and fulfil a global health target, as highlighted by the World Health Organization (WHO) Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals, in improving supply and safety, and ensuring the gradual implementation of selective haemotherapy. When WHO recommended the evaluation of convalescent blood or plasma to treat Ebola-infected patients during the recent epidemics, substantial gaps in local blood collection, testing and technology infrastructure and safety, as compared to best accepted quality standards, became evident. This evidence should now serve as an ‘electro-shock’/awakening call used to highlight the needs for local governments to support National Blood Transfusion Services and establish robust national regulatory authorities that are mandated to bear regulatory responsibilities of blood establishments. A nationally co-ordinated blood programme is the best tool to gather reliable epidemiological data, address local needs in blood and blood products and serve public health. A literature review using WHO website and PubMed was conducted in this article to outline the current clinical use of blood products and plasma derivatives in SSA. This text also intends to highlight the gaps to be filled in the coming years with respect to quality, safety, supply and efficacy of blood and plasma products, in line with WHO guidelines for transfusion. © 2018 International Society of Blood Transfusion
Original languageEnglish
JournalVox Sanguinis
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • blood
  • clinical use
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • transfusion


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