Blood Crisis In Egypt

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charts 1 n 2 (2)

According to the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS), which is the main entity following the standards and procedures of the World Health Organization (WHO) and mainly relying on voluntary non-remunerated blood donation, someone in Egypt needs blood every 5 minutes. Approximately 1% of the population is currently blood donors, the minimum needed to meet the basic needs of the country. Out of this 1%, only 35% are non-remunerated voluntary blood donors. The other 65% are family replacement & obligated donors, which means the blood donated carry a higher risk of diseases such as Hepatitis B & C.

The blood crisis in Egypt had worsened especially after the 2011 revolution. According to the ministry of health, the need for blood increased from 1.1 million unit in 201o to 1.4 million unit in 2011. One kidney patient had told IRIN news that she had to buy a blood bag for U.S $120; a process she had to do before each kidney dialysis.

Moreover, there is a high risk of unsafe blood in Egypt due to family replacements or obliged donors which represent a high-risk target group. As a result, many blood recipients are contaminated with Hepatitis B or C Virus and other transfusion diseases.

The most recent statistics found on blood donations in Egypt were for years
2006 and 2005. Chart 1 and 2 show that the total amount of donated blood has
decreased in Cairo -represented by the NBTC- by around 4 percent. Moreover (NBTC) receives an average of just 60 donors per day.

There is an urgent need to push MOHP to consider the blood problem is “a health priority”; NBTC should assure that no blood trading is talking place especially in rural areas where supervision is low. Most importantly, NBTC should consider all NGO’s working on blood donations as partners and collaborate with them to ease their task.

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5 Responses to “Blood Crisis In Egypt”

  1. alexandermjenson Says:

    Great post Nahla, and a very interesting topic. You do a very good job demonstrating the urgent need for blood in Egypt, and how the high rates of Hepatitis B and C complicate efforts for blood donation. I was wondering what potential solutions could be done with these NGOs. The blood “trade” is obviously a controversial issue, but is compensation through a more rigorous government program an option to encourage people to donate blood?
    Especially given the recent political and economic turmoil in Egypt, I was wondering if that had been considered, and how rigorous the testing is of that blood for Hepatitis B and C. Certainly more coordination is needed, I just wish I knew to what end (ie what policies would they support that would change the landscape).

  2. hdantat1 Says:

    Hi Nahla,
    Thank you for the post.
    Blood transfusion gaps between demand and supply remains a public health burden across the globe. In your posting, you had indicated that 35% of the blood donors are non-remunerated. This arouses my curiosity on the proportion that is remunerated?, though you mentioned that family and obligated donors form a huge proportion. Considering that Hepatitis C patients make about 10 percent of the population in Egypt and Egypt has the highest proportion of Hepatitis C patients in the world
    (
    http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/7/48/81250/Life–Style/Health/New-Egyptian-blood-donation-initiative-launches-on.aspx
    ), Myths surrounding blood donation and the risk of contracting Hepatitis C may be issues related to the shortfall currently experienced in Egypt. Two percent of the Hepatitis C patients need blood transfusions on regular basis.

  3. hdantat1 Says:

    In addition, I was wondering if you had any ideas or proposed initiatives to tackle this challenge and link blood donors with those in need.
    Cheers
    Hannatu

  4. ahmadalmalki84 Says:

    Thanks Nahla for this interesting post. I came form a country which has the same background as Egypt. I can understand that the poor management and poor planning can play a role in this problem. the rural region occupy a large part of Egypt and all of those regions are at risk. The government must increase the public awareness about the major diseases and methods of transmission of diseases like hepatitis B and hepatitis or HIV.

    The urgent need of blood from one side, and poor supervision of blood donation system and poor volunteering for blood, put the government in critical condition. The government needs to purchase( blood trade) more blood units and provide it for patients in regular prices. This would secure more safe blood units for Egyptian community. Moreover, government must establish a well organized national blood donation system which can monitor the blood donation all over the country. However, due to political condition and economical problem in Egypt now, government needs help from NGO to collaborate with and facilitate its job.

    I totally agree with urgent need of Ministry of Health to consider this health issue one of its priority, but I am wondering how the NGO will work in collaboration with Egyptian Government during this political events!!
    Although the Egyptian government has many critical issues to solve out but Hepatitis B and C transmissions are major health issues which need to be in the top of a list in any governmental discussion or meeting.

  5. Justin Price Says:

    Thank you for the excellent post, Nahla! The issues surrounding blood donor screening are complex and fascinating. It seems a constant battle between speed, supply/demand, and quality, with a sort of zero-sum interplay. For instance, we might be able to improve the available amount of banked blood, but in order to speed up the process, we can’t screen for all of the diseases that we’d like to.

    There have been some innovative programs rolled out in other parts of Africa, using motivators like external funding to improve the numbers of non-remunerated volunteer donors, but these programs have actually had some unintended detrimental effects: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001309. One such market consequence was that the cost of blood and transfusion services increased dramatically after the introduction of external funding. It will be interesting to see how nations like Egypt and NGOs work together to solve these issues, and what new innovations will arise as a result of unforeseen problems with current intervention schemata.

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