Research

Mind the gap: Patterns of red blood cell product usage in South Africa, 2014 - 2019

L Bolton, K van den Berg, R Swanevelder, J R C Pulliam

Abstract


Background. A key component of any successful healthcare system is the availability of sufficient, safe blood products delivered in an equitable manner. South Africa (SA) has a two-tiered healthcare system with public and privately funded sectors. Blood utilisation data for both sectors are lacking. Evaluation of blood utilisation patterns in each healthcare sector will enable implementation of systems to bring about more equality.

Objectives. To conduct a critical evaluation of red blood cell (RBC) product utilisation patterns at the South African National Blood Service (SANBS).

Methods. Operationally collected data from RBC requests submitted to SANBS blood banks for the period 1 January 2014 - 31 March 2019 were used to determine temporal RBC product utilisation patterns by healthcare sector. Demographic patterns were determined, and per capita RBC utilisation trends calculated.

Results. Of the 2 356 441 transfusion events, 65.9% occurred in the public and 34.1% in the private sector. Public sector patients were younger (median (interquartile range (IQR)) 33 (22 - 49) years) than in the private sector (median (IQR) 54 (37 - 68) years), and mainly female in both sectors (66.2% in the public sector and 53.4% in the private sector). Between 2014 and 2018, per capita RBC utilisation decreased from 11.9 to 11.0/1 000 population in the public sector, but increased from 34.8 to 38.2/1 000 population in the private sector.

Conclusions. We confirmed distinctly different RBC utilisation patterns between the healthcare sectors in SA. Possible drivers for these differences may be healthcare access, differing patient populations and prescriber habits. Better understanding of these drivers may help inform equitable public health policy.


Authors' affiliations

L Bolton, South African DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA), Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

K van den Berg, Translational Research, Medical Division, South African National Blood Service, Roodepoort, South Africa; Division of Clinical Haematology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

R Swanevelder, Translational Research, Medical Division, South African National Blood Service, Roodepoort, South Africa

J R C Pulliam, South African DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA), Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Keywords

Blood utilisation; Red blood cell product usage; Healthcare sectors; Public health policy; Blood transfusion

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(10):985-990. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i10.15658

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-10-05
Date published: 2021-10-05

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