By Garnet Saluben
For many years, inadequacy of blood has been a challenge in most hospitals during the lean period when learning institutions are closed for holidays. This is because secondary school students make a large donor base which covers almost 72% of blood donors. In a bid to ensure that there is a steady supply of blood to hospitals, Malawi Blood Transfusion Service (MBTS) introduced blood donation open day’s campaigns that are rolled out just two weeks before the closure of schools. These campaigns serve as an alternative plan to district campaigns that run when schools are in session.
This initiative involves sensitisation of communities to blood donation in order to recruit and retain voluntary non remunerated blood donors. People are educated on blood donor eligibility, the process of blood donation itself and milestone awards for blood donor recognition. Purposely, people are also educated on the recipients of the donated blood to motivate them to go and show the love in giving blood at a specific location where the MBTS staff has set up its clinic. Furthermore, MBTS rolled out a transport reimbursement programme in an effort of making blood donation convenient to many.
Recently, open day initiatives have produced desirable results in blood collections as per statistics. For instance, in March 2022, MBTS O’dala Centre managed to collect over 2300 units of blood which rose to 3056 units of blood in the month of June 2022.
Linda Namalomba, Chief Nursing Officer at MBTS for O’dala Centre, highlighted that open days have boosted the availability of blood during lean periods.
“So far, open days have proved to be a game changer in blood collection unlike village campaigns where we could be confined to one village, but with open days we are able to collect a good number of units of blood and the mobilisation is a little bit easier”, she said.
Before conducting open days, MBTS coordinates with District Health Offices to identify and engage relevant stakeholders such as traditional leaders and management of health centres to mobilize people on blood donation.
So far, the initiative has taken place in the southern region districts of Nsanje, Blantyre, Thyolo, Phalombe, Zomba, Chikwawa and Chiradzulu which has witnessed a positive response.