Dakar – Senegal, like many other nations, had an increase in social networking site use during the Coronavirus epidemic. Eighty-two percent of Senegalese own smartphones, and 58 percent use the internet on a daily basis.

This makes social networking platforms ideal for tackling another public health issue: the drop in donations of blood for life-saving procedures.

A project initiative of the National Blood Transfusion Centre (CNTS) Senegal and backed by the WHO (World Health Organization) aims to encourage more individuals to give blood on a regular basis by capitalizing on the country’s increasing social media use.

“Corona Pandemic has placed a burden on our healthcare system, making it more difficult to sustain the blood banks, on which so many depend upon,” Professor Saliou Diop, the director of CNTS adds. “However, the increase in the usage of social networking mediums during the epidemic seemed like a chance to raise the attention of people to a collateral problem that they really had the capacity to avoid.”

With WHO assistance, CNTS and Facebook formed a collaboration to enable the country’s blood banks to link up with donors more quickly and easily. Users may learn about the procedure of safely giving blood and find the closest donation facility by visiting a dedicated Facebook page. The page is now followed by 27 000 users.

However, the campaign continues from there. CNTS routinely update information and data about donors on Twitter, as well as answering public inquiries regarding the donation procedure. Over 6000 people have joined that page. Another 800 people are following the campaign on the CNTS page on Instagram.

Senegal’s blood donations dropped by 75% during the onset of the epidemic. The social networking effort of CNTS has aided in a 10% annual increase in those numbers. Donations grew by 11% between the years 2020 and 2021.

CNTS has also sought the help of many influencers to encourage their friends and followers to donate blood to the blood banks of Senegal. The outcomes are astounding: a three-day blood donation campaign in March 2021 resulted in the donation of blood by1500 donors, an increase fivefold above the regular rate.

Women and adolescents have been given special attention in the campaign. Professor Diop states, “We intend to promote more repeat contributors among these populations.” “Creating a chain of continuous donations would help Senegal become more self-reliant and guarantee that we have an adequate availability of blood when it is most required.”

The rate of blood donation varies greatly across nations. As per WHO’s 2020 estimates, 31.5 persons in 1000 high-income nations give blood. In comparison, just five individuals out of every 1000 in lower-income nations donate blood.

Blood shortages may have serious effects. A sufficient and dependable supply of blood is required for critical care measures such as lowering maternal mortality owing to postpartum hemorrhage, treatment of anemia in children, and combating non-communicable illnesses such as renal insufficiency and cancer.

The WHO assisted CNTS in collaborating with Facebook and holding instructional seminars providing guidelines for sustaining blood supply during health disasters, and signal-boosted general awareness efforts surrounding World Blood Donation Day.

According to Professor Diop, the increase in donors of blood and contributions exemplifies the Senegalese ethos of civic duty.

“We can contribute in a big way towards promoting universal health care and for an efficient and robust health system for our nation. Thanks to the generosity and concern of our fellow people,” he adds.

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