St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and the Legon Interdenominational Church (LIC) have jointly organised a health screening and blood donation exercise at the University of Ghana.
The event, which took place on February 18-19, 2023, was aimed at supporting the National Blood Service to provide blood to women who need blood during pregnancy and immediately after delivery – both the antepartum and the postpartum period.
The event engaged 402 individuals, of whom 189 were able to successfully donate blood. Additionally, 112 people received health screenings for blood glucose levels, blood pressure, malaria and COVID-19.
The exercise was preceded by a call for all to donate blood regularly to prevent other blood-related health complications in pregnancy. Speaking at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Dr. Nita Asamoa-Manu emphasised how postpartum haemorrhage, if not immediately corrected, could lead to catastrophic events, in addition to damage to other organs in the body.
When a woman begins to bleed profusely after birth, the body responds by drastically reducing blood supply to other body organs and concentrating only on the vital organs, albeit the brain and heart. The kidneys may shut down and her liver may also be affected. Blood to the limbs may also be affected leading to the extremities becoming very cold and sweaty.
The woman can develop acute kidney disease which can progress to a chronic kidney disease if this haemorrhage is not corrected immediately. However, supplying the blood at the right time can prevent her from developing these chronic diseases, which are costly to treat.
The blood donation exercise was organised in partnership with the Knights of St. John International 911 and Ladies Auxiliary 782, Zipline Ghana, Yemaachi Biotechnology, Diagnostic Centre, Time with Dr. Nita, with support from Radio Univers, and MX24 TV.
Yemaachi Biotechnology provided self-test kits to test for the presence of HPV infection in the cervix. The Sheba Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test kit is an innovative product that identifies women who are at high risk for cervical cancer which is currently the second most prevalent cancer in Ghanaian women, killing approximately 2000 every year. However, when detected early, cervical cancer is a highly treatable disease.
During the health screening drive, the Diagnostic Centre tested patrons for COVID-19, malaria parasites, and blood glucose levels – screening for diabetes. The team included medical personnel to provide general wellness and medical advice.
Commenting on the exercise, Sr. Bridget Naazie Esq., respected President of the Ladies Auxiliary, expressed optimism as the event was an opportunity to make blood donation “a way of life” and ensure that individuals and communities had access to safe and quality blood and blood products – both in routine and emergency situations.
“As a Christian community, we need to volunteer to save and improve the lives of many patients who may require blood as part of the clinical management of their ailments, as God loves a cheerful giver.”
There was also awareness creation on television, radio and social media. The programme achieved a cumulative reach of 20,000 people through health sensitisation on Radio Univers, MX24 Television, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, and social media.
Over the years, St. Thomas Aquinas Parish and Legon Interdenominational Church have championed blood donations on campus with average donations of 70 pints of blood per drive. However, the 2023 Health Screening and Blood Donation Drive recorded the highest blood donation of 189 pints of blood. The drive was also put together to commemorate the 5th anniversary celebration of the Knights of St. John International and Ladies Auxiliary.