Reflections on blood donation

The country has made steady strides since we began voluntary blood donation in 2004.

Malawi Blood Transfusion Service (MBTS), which was established in 2003, collected 5000 units of blood a year later.

Now, it collects between 63 000 and 70000 units. This is a no mean achievement.

MBTS has collected well over 630 000 units since its inception.

But we can do better if the need to donate blood attracted the same attention as the 50:50 Campaign or the gender-based violence (GBV).

In the May 31 Tripartite Elections, various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) campaigned for more women in elected positions and the number of women in Parliament rose from 32 to 45.

That is fine

But all who were involved in the 50:50 Campaign or their relatives cannot escape blood transfusion.

For years, the NGOs have raised voices against GBV. The campaign is bearing fruit.

All this is about humanity—just like blood transfusion.

Imagine what can happen if we also increase the focus on blood donation in our country.

No foreign country will come to eradicate blood shortage in our country. Malawians need Malawians to sustain blood transfusion needed by our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters in hospitals.

The solution is clear: As a nation, we need to mobilise ourselves to ensure that those eligible to donate blood assist our beloved citizens in the hospitals.

Blood donation is a human rights issue. No one should go to the hospital and be told that there is no blood, but rather be assisted immediately.

Malawians can easily make this happen. We don’t need foreign intervention. We just need to mobilise ourselves as we did during the 50:50 Campaign or war on violence against women.

Government established MBTS to ensure that blood is readily available to all in need. Think about a patient referred to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital from Malaka in Nsanje, a pregnant woman referred to Kamuzu Central Hospitals from Mkanda in Mchinji, an accident victim referred to Zomba Central Hospital from Makanjira in Mangochi and a young malaria patient referred to Mzuzu Central Hospital from Embangweni or Eswazini in Mzimba.

 If blood is not available, where can they get friends and relatives to donate?

If you are involved in a road accident somewhere far away from friends and relatives, readily available blood from voluntary donors will assist.

It is time Malawians took blood donation as a serious human rights issue.

I would like to call upon human rights defenders, the likes of Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence to take the issue of blood donation as another human rights issue and assist MBTS ensure everyone has access to blood when it is needed.

Likewise, NGO-Gender Coordinating Network coordinator  Network Innocent Hauya must intervene as does the network when it comes to campaigns for equal representation in politics and the fight against GBV.

After all, about 65 percent of the blood collected by MBTS goes to women and children and this is very a relevant campaign.

All Malawians need to put a stop to blood shortage in hospitals. Let me salute traditional leaders who mobilise people to donate blood.

Paramount Chief Lundu has for long advocated and worked together with traditional authorities (T/As) Nganbu, Katunga and Maseya in Chikwawa. Chiefs in Zomba, Thyolo, Mangochi, Ntcheu, Salima, Mzimba, Blantyre and Lilongwe have shown their tremendous support. 

T/A Kabudula of Lilongwe has just received an award for outstanding support towards voluntary blood donation. This is commendable.

Let us join hands to make blood shortage history. Make blood readily accessible for everyone. Donate blood. n

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