The National Blood Services of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) is on a drive to encourage people to donate blood amid revelations that blood bank stocks are running low as a result of low donor turnouts caused by the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
President Emerson Mnangagwa last month imposed a dusk to dawn curfew, banned inter-city travel and cut business hours in response to coronavirus infections, affecting operations at various institutions.
NBSZ is also targeting youths, as part of the Pledge 25 campaign, a programme that was initiated to encourage youths to donate blood in large numbers and boost blood stocks.
NBSZ communications officer Ephraim Mubayi told Business Times recently that type O blood stocks at all branches stood at less than five days cover.
“NBSZ currently has low blood stocks at all our branches nationally and contributing factors to the shortage include but not limited to low donor turnouts, maybe due to third wave concerns, community impacts of third wave affecting attendance to collections sites,” he said.
Mubayi said learning institutions, the major source of donors who contribute about 75% of blood in the national blood bank, remain closed. He said NBSZ was getting donor flows from corporations as they are operating at low capacity.
“Blood group O is the most affected because of the higher demand as it is considered a universal type. In emergencies, or times of shortage, it can be transfused into persons of other blood groups. Group O is found in approximately 50% of all Zimbabweans,” he said.
Mubayi said currently the NBSZ was appealing for blood donors and also engaging corporates for their assistance.
“NBSZ is currently hosting blood drives in different neighbourhoods around the country. Our contact centre is intensifying donor call outs. Also engagement with stakeholders for their assistance is being pursued.”
He said patients receiving treatment from local authorities and private institutions were required to pay an equivalent of US$120 as they are not covered under the government subsidy while blood was free in government institutions.
“NBSZ has a blood donor benefit policy that makes it possible for blood donors to access blood and blood products for free either in private or public hospitals provided they meet the set criteria,” Mubayi said.