T-REC is an international consortium of academics and health practitioners who want to improve blood transfusion services across Africa. The project is works across Ghana and Zimbabwe its purpose is to build sustainable capacity for research in blood transfusion services in Africa. There is a critical lack of individuals with research skills in Africa’s transfusion services; without these skills the service cannot do the research needed to improve the safety and supply of blood for their people. Several European institutions have expertise in building research capacity among health professionals in Africa.
This project will coordinate EU and African collaborations to transfer research skills to the African partners. EU partners will benefit by enhancing their own blood transfusion research skills. To do this we will support three research training schemes (PhD, under/post graduates, in-service) in each of two African partner transfusion services. All partners will contribute to disseminating information about the project to both academic and non-academic audiences, promoting the uptake of research into policy and practice and in seeking long-term support for building transfusion research capacity in Africa.
Blood transfusions are a critical part of healthcare and they save millions of lives each year in Africa. They are predominantly used for emergencies such as bleeding during childbirth, but there are many needless deaths due to critical shortages of blood.
In African countries, unpredictable blood use, blood shortages and difficulties in reaching hospitals means that research generated in wealthy countries is generally not applicable to transfusion services in Africa and yet this research is used to guide transfusion policies and practices. If African countries are to improve their transfusion services they need to generate their own evidence based research.
T-REC aims to strengthen the capacity of blood transfusion services in Africa to help generate research and to use research findings to improve the safety and availability of blood for transfusion. It is working to integrate research into the mainstream activities of blood transfusion organisations. It hopes to strengthen research systems, infrastructure and networks within and between blood transfusion services and academic institutions in Africa and internationally.
T-REC is funding PhD students to research priority topics in blood transfusion in Africa and the DPDM course is intended to provide health professionals with experience of designing and managing research projects. Both of these programmes will aid students in developing a career in blood transfusion and help to create a group of people who can perform research that impacts on locally important health care issues.
T-REC also provides funding for students to undertake research on a blood transfusion related topic. It brings university staff into close contact with blood transfusion services and we hope that as a result of this, future research collaborations between the transfusion services and academic institutions will develop.
T-REC, in association with the African Society of Blood Transfusion, has begun setting up a network of research individuals with an interest in blood transfusion in sub-Saharan Africa. The network hopes to map current research activity, determine priorities within the field, and facilitate communication between researchers. So far, over 200 individuals have been contacted and the initial response has been very positive.
T-REC has also increased communication within the field. Papers have been published in various journals and videos presenting information about improving blood transfusion services are available on YouTube in which T-REC has its own channel.