Blood transfusion service in a tertiary hospital in sub- Saharan Africa during the COVID 19 pandemic: Experience from Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Nigeria
Blood transfusion services are as pivotal to the health system during a pandemic as before the pandemic. The effect of a pandemic on transfusion services depends on the nature, potential for community spread and risk of transfusion transmissibility. As the total number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 rises, and to prevent the community spread of the SARS‐CoV‐2 virus, governments worldwide, as well as the Nigerian government, announced national lockdowns. Lockdowns have affected blood transfusion services. In Nigeria, blood transfusion services are still decentralized and tertiary health centres run independent transfusion units. The Lagos University Teaching Hospital blood transfusion unit was also impacted by the pandemic and the consequent lockdown. The major challenges experienced are in recruitment of voluntary blood donors, follow‐up of donors and patients with concomitant reduction in blood and blood component supply derived from family replacement donation, inventory and consumable management, staff safety and adequacy for emergency work. These challenges were compounded by the inadequate infrastructure and policies at the outset of the pandemic. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa should invest in health infrastructure and their transfusion services and encourage local manufacture of basic laboratory reagents and consumables. The blood transfusion services and units should put in place strategic continuity of operations plans (COOP) to respond adequately to challenges generated during a pandemic which should focus on shortage, wastage and supply of blood and components in a cost‐effective manner and human resource management.