Blood bank supplies in sub-Saharan Africa contain Malaria parasites

New researches in parts of sub-Saharan Africa have revealed that many blood banks have supplies containing Malaria parasites.

Details of the latest findings were presented at the 7th Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan African Malaria Conference in Dakar, Senegal.

The researchers said nearly one in four blood bank supplies contain the parasites that cause malaria, meanwhile another study, focusing on the blood supply of Equatorial Guinea’s capital, Malabo, found much higher levels of latent malaria infection.

Most of the latent malaria infection according to the research document could not be detected with diagnostic technology.

In a statement from the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria “Sub-Saharan Africa carries the highest burden of malaria in the world.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that 90 percent of all malaria cases are located in sub-Saharan Africa and researchers are hoping for the elimination of malaria though all sources of disease transmission, including the region’s blood banks.

The first study, “A systematic review and meta-analysis of the risk of transfusion-transmitted malaria from blood donors in sub-Saharan Africa,” conducted by Dr. Selali Fiamanya and colleagues from the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN), gathered results from 24 studies to assess malaria prevalence among 22,508 blood donors.

According to the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria Dr. Fiamanya’s “study shows that without better vigilance, children receiving transfusions to address malaria’s impacts risk exposure to more malaria-causing parasites.”

“Malaria is one of the primary infections that can be transmitted through a blood transfusion in subSaharan Africa,” said Dr. Fiamanya stating that “Our research is only the first line of inquiry needed to address this risk. Pregnant women and children receive the majority of transfusions in this region. The technical challenges of diagnosing and removing the Plasmodium parasites from the blood banks 2 requires further analysis, but we know already that these findings threatens the next generation—our future.”

Meanwhile the second study, “Prevalence of Malaria Parasites at the Malabo Blood Bank on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea,” was conducted by Dr. Claudia Daubenberger, colleagues at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, and Dr. Tamy Robaina at the Malabo Blood Bank.

Dr. Daubenberger and colleagues found that 29.5 percent of the blood samples were contaminated. All of the samples thought to be free of the malaria parasite held very low concentrations of the parasites—under 100 parasites per microliter of blood.

“With better screening technology and practices in place, blood banks in sub-Saharan Africa can be well placed to serve as a surveillance system, helping to monitor malaria and other transfusion-transmitted infectious diseases,” said Dr. Daubenberger.

He added that “Our findings clearly reinforce World Health Organization recommendations that all transfusion recipients receive preventive malarial treatments. This disease is a treatable and preventable burden that few patients needing blood transfusions can afford.”

The Pan African Malaria Conference is organized every three-to-four years by the MIM secretariat in collaboration with a group of African institutions.




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