It’s a difficult life in West Africa, where the continent’s poorest countries are located. Poverty strike most of the populace, while breakouts of terrible diseases like Ebola continue to ravage communities across the region. In Ghana, the young and the jobless, who need to find immediate income to feed the family for the day, resort to a desperate trade to keep their lives afloat – selling blood.
In Ghana, donating blood has always been frowned upon. Religious and cultural restrictions are keeping the country’s supplies low. However, empty pockets are making the locals shun age-old practices. Ghana’s teenagers travel in armies to their local clinic to sell their blood. Eric Bimpong, a local who profits from this bloody trade, spoke with AFP to reveal the dire situation of Ghana’s jobless majority. Bimpong spends his days outside bars and schools, where teenagers are most likely to be found. He says the trade is driven by desperate patients whose own family members aren’t willing to share their blood to their own relative, mostly due to fear of contracting the illness.
“In this country, when people go to the hospital, they don’t want their relatives to know. So they come to us.”
Surprisingly, despite the national lack of supply, the government has expressed its dismay over this trade. Public health officials have stated that these unregulated trade of blood supply might speed up the spread of HIV and other communicable diseases. “It’s abnormal. We don’t really encourage this kind of donation,” said Stephen Addai, a representative for Ghana’s National Blood Service.
With decent exports like cocoa, gold and oil, Ghana’s economy is relatively fair compared to its neighbors like Burkina Faso or Mali, whose struggles with keeping the national budget afloat have been the subject of recent news. Its other neighbors, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, are currently desperate to contain their diseases. In other words, Ghana is an oasis in West Africa, where countries suffer from extreme poverty and incurable diseases. However, the country hasn’t been able to fix its primary resource – its youth force, whose struggles with unemployment drives them towards unconventional income.
Currently, 45 percent of Ghana’s unemployed are teenagers to young adults. Those who are lucky enough to have a job are almost jobless themselves, earning one dollar a day for extremely terrible types of employment.
The problem of trading blood for money isn’t an exclusively Ghanaian problem. Selling blood is a well-documented practice among America’s poorest. Regardless, this trade of blood and sweat is a sign that an immediate fix is needed to solve a hidden economic problem.
[Image from ndtv.com]