Walter Mswazie Masvingo Correspondent
THE National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) is targeting to collect about 180 000 units of blood this year.
NBSZ Publicity, Information and Relations Manager Dr Tonderai Mapako told journalists during a media education programme at the Masvingo branch last Friday, that they have been collecting between 60 000 and 80 000 units of blood per year, mainly from outreach programmes.
“On average, we collect between 60 000 and 80 000 units of blood per year, but for 2019, our target is 180 000 units,” said Dr Mapako.
“About 58 percent of the blood is collected from male donors and 80 percent is realised from outreach programmes. This includes schools where we recruit those in the 16 to 20 year-age groups.
“The 20 to 30 years out-of-school age group also contributes significant blood, but those above 30 years seem to be reluctant to give blood.”
Dr Mapako attributed low blood donation levels by women to maternal issues such as pregnancy and breast feeding.
Breastfeeding and pregnant women are discouraged from giving blood to avoid health complications.
Dr Mapako said male donors are free to donate blood after three-month intervals while females needed four months, which means males give more blood than females.
According to statistics from NBSZ, there were 36 000 blood donors in the 16 to 20 age group between 2013 and 2018, constituting 36 percent of donors.
However, a measly 10 percent of the country’s population donate blood.
Dr Mapako said last year, the 21 to 30 years age group contributes 18 percent to blood donations while the 30 years and above age group contributed 14 percent. The rate of retention from this age group is low.
He also said 11 percent of blood donations came from the 16 to 20 age group, with 18 percent coming from the 21 to 30 age group.
About 43 percent of people in the country do not donate blood due to health reasons and advanced age.
Citizens can donate blood from 16 years up to 65 years, but that can be extended to 70 years at doctor’s recommendation.
Meanwhile, Dr Mapako implored the media to report accurately and responsibly on matters to do with the country’s blood bank.
He said some of the media reports on the state of blood supply were not accurate.
“It is critical for media personnel to be trained on blood recruitment and supply. This will definitely go a long way in helping them come up with accurate stories,” said Dr Mapako.
He explained that they monitor the blood bank through a mechanism called blood supply management status, which is determined by three distinct stages which include quarantine stock percentage for five days, measuring available stock and measuring of blood order against supply percentage.
Dr Mapako said when the NBSZ says stocks are at five-day level, they would be at 80 percent and “there is no need to press the panic button”.
“It is unfortunate that in some sections of the media, it was misinterpreted.
“Anything that is above 70 percent level, which is above three days’ supply, is still fine.
“We are happy that Masvingo always has adequate blood standing at 94 percent, which is more than five days,” he said.