A word of gratitude to blood donors

Thumbs to all people who donated blood during the 2018 National Blood Donation Awareness Week themed ‘Give Blood, Give Happiness.’

Blood donors who did not donate because their time of donation was not due are also appreciated.

For blood donation to take place, there are many stakeholders involved: the media, teachers, traditional leaders, parents and other well-wishers.

Malawi Blood Transformation Services (MBTS) started conducting the awareness week in 2010.

The activity was being conducted within one week up to 2017, when MBTS collected 7 552 units of blood against a target of 10 000 units.

But to increase efficiency and the number of units collected, MBTS decided to start conducting the activity in two weeks. The first week had eight districts so was the second week.

In 2018, it planned to conduct the awareness week in 16 districts—Blantyre, Chikwawa, Thyolo, Zomba, Phalombe, Mangochi, Balaka, Nkhotakota, Lilongwe, Dedza, Dowa, Kasungu, Mzuzu City, Rumphi, Karonga and Chitipa.  This constitutes five districts in the South, five in the Centre, four in the North and two in East.

Last year, MBTS collected 9 893 units of blood, representing 99 percent of the targeted 10 000 units.

This achievement belongs to blood donors and all Malawians, who made sure that all people in need of blood transfusion had access to it during the festive season.

In the first week, MBTS collected 5 642 units in Blantyre, Chikwawa, Lilongwe, Dedza, Dowa, Mangochi, Mzuzu and Rumphi.

In the second, it collected 4 251 units in Thyolo, Phalombe, Zomba, Nkhotakota, Kasungu, Chitipa, Karonga and Balaka.

These figures represent a 24 percent increase from the 2017 awareness week when the blood transfusion service collected 7 550 units.

In the Southern Region, 3 765 units were collected, 3 479 units were collected in the Central Region, 978 units were collected in the Eastern Region while 1 671 units were collected in the Northern Region.

This feat will flow to many people in need of blood, giving them happiness when they need blood to live.

It is for this reason that MBTS established the awareness week as an intervention during the festive season: to give happiness to the patients’ need of blood in the hospitals.

While MBTS, blood donors and other stakeholders are celebrating the achievement, we should not ignore the consequences of the results. Hospitals will have enough blood during the festive season. Definitely, there will be no need for hospitals to ask patients to bring friends and relatives to donate blood for them. This is the beauty of it when blood is readily available in the hospitals.

However, the war has not been won yet for the remaining period. While we have succeeded to cater for the festive season, greater challenges lie ahead, especially during the Easter period and school holidays. Blood donation is not a once-off activity.

People are becoming sick every day, meaning that they will continue to require blood transfusion in the hospitals.

As such, MBTS is urging Malawians to continue donating blood regularly so that hospitals continuously have sufficient blood units.

For the festive season, hospitals required about 10 000 units of blood. But this is just seasonal a demand.

MBTS studies have established that the country requires 120 000 units of whole blood a year, but the blood transfusion service only collects around 63 000. This represents 53 percent of the national annual requirement.

 The gap is clear. Let us build on the moment we have found. n

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