Abstract: The persistent and urgent need for blood in Africa
Objective: This cross-sectional study sought to give a record of all the blood transfusions conducted at a local hospital in Mangochi, Malawi during three weeks in January 2010.
Materials and methods: Blood transfusion is an important and life-saving treatment in patients with acute severe anemia. By looking through the log book at the laboratory, all blood transfusions were recorded with information about age, gender, Hb level, diagnosis, department and origin of the blood. All patients admitted at the hospital who received a blood transfusion during the study period was included.
Results:The mean Hb in the total study population was 4.8 (95% confidence interval =1.2-8.4). The median age of female patients receiving blood transfusions was 3.0 years (IQR=1.0-24.1) and the median age of male patients was 2.0 years (IQR=1.0-4.0). Two thirds (65/104) of the patients included in the study were under five years of age. More than half of the blood transfusions were given to patients diagnosed with malaria, and 93% of these were pediatric patients.
Discussion: The findings indicate that the youngest children with malaria and pregnant women are the patients most frequently to require blood transfusions. The results indicate that the health care providers adhere to the current guidelines for blood transfusion, and highlight the need for local adjustments of adequate and safe blood transfusion services. Further studies are needed to explore the need for and organization of sustainable and safe blood transfusion services in resource-limited settings.