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Transfusion research priorities for blood services in sub-Saharan Africa.

Br J Haematol; 177(6): 855-863, 2017 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28449225
Evidence to support many blood transfusion policies and practices in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is weak or lacking. SSA cannot extrapolate from wealthy countries' research findings because its environment, users and structures are very different and SSA has critical blood shortages. SSA needs to generate its own evidence but research funds are very scarce and need to be carefully targeted to match need. This study aimed to define this need by determining research priorities for blood services in SSA. Thirty-five stakeholders representing diverse blood services' interests and expertise participated in a workshop. An adapted 'consensus development method' was used to identify, agree and justify research priorities under five themes through small group and plenary discussion, and cumulative voting. Research priorities covered traditional research areas, such as clinical use of blood and infection screening, but also highlighted many new, under-researched topics, mostly concerning blood service 'systems', such as economics, blood components and regulation. Lack of electronic information management systems was an important hindrance to the blood services' ability to generate robust research data. This study has identified and prioritised novel research that will help blood services in SSA to address their own needs including their most urgent problem: the lack of access to adequate blood supplies. To catalyse this research blood services in SSA need to enhance their capacity to conduct, commission and manage research and to strengthen their collaborations within and beyond Africa.