MUTARE– Government’s initiative to provide free blood at public health institutions has seen a rapid rise in demand of the precious fluid, a revised target for national blood collection, officials have said.
By Donald Nyarota
National Blood Service Zimbabwe public affairs manager Esther Massundah told journalist recently at a Media Briefing Workshop, that government initiative to provide free blood at public hospitals has spiked demand.
Massundah said they were responding to the new demand with a multi-pronged scaling strategy which aims for an increased annual unit target as well as promotion activities.
“Whenever there is need for blood we don’t hide we always appeal to the people to donate through various media. We are always open about our operations and we always want to reassure the public of a capability to meet demand.
“This year we are targeting 108,400 units of blood an increase from a previous target of 800 000 units annually.
“What we did is when the government indicated that they were going to introduce the free blood initiative, we looked at our operations and were we could upscale. To achieve this, we have added mobile collections teams in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare to cushion the increased demand.
“In terms of resources, we held discussions with the government on cost recovery and they said they were going to subsidize the procurement of blood, we also looked at awareness and provision of information to the public hence this engagement with the media,” she said.
NSBZ Planning, Information and Research manager Dr Tonderai Mapako also called on members of the public to donate blood saying over half of national donations were coming from school going children who inversely represent about a tenth of the population.
He also said despite these statistics NSBZ was in a position to provide enough blood for the country adding that they have contingency plans to ensure adequate supply in times of need.
“We are working towards redressing the challenge of student donors because predominantly the 16-20 age group is the one that is providing 68 percent of blood donations from just about 11 percent from our population and that is a mismatch that needs to be addressed.
“This already is part of our broad initiative to increase brand awareness and visibility as well as recruiting donors, especially with the free blood initiative government has played its part it’s now up to the people to also take up the challenge to donate blood.”