Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Mat South Bureau Chief
UNIFORMED forces and health workers constituted a majority of blood donors during the Covid-19 lockdown period, which threatened blood stocks in the southern region, the National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has said.
The blood bank’s programming was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic as some planned blood donation outreaches had to be cancelled.
The pandemic also interrupted some vaccination programmes as those who had taken Covid-19 shots cannot donate blood in the first 14 days after vaccination.
The festive season has over the years created high demand for blood transfusion due to increased movement, which results in a spike in accidents during this time of the year.
The Beitbridge-Gwanda Highway, which is a transit route for many travellers and cargo coming from South Africa and other countries, is increasingly busy during the festive season as people either visit their loved ones or return to their bases.
NBSZ southern region communications manager, Mr Sifundo Ngwenya, said after realising that their usual blood donors, most of whom were not considered essential service workers were being turned away at roadblocks, outside-the-box thinking had to be effected.
“We engaged the police who allowed us to set up blood donation drives at police camps. This stance helped us penetrate the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services,” he said.
“We had access to 1 700 recruits that were being trained and utilised the opportunity to set up blood collection drives. This helped us build up our blood bank and collect enough blood to carry us through the festive season and beyond.”
Mr Ngwenya said the NBSZ also set up blood donation centres at health institutions.
“We also turned to health institutions where we managed to set up blood donation centres, which are still standing to date through schools of nursing and hospital staff.
“On average, we clock about 100 units from each of the various health institutions because they donate blood in their numbers. Most health personnel were initiated through the schooling programme and value the importance of donating blood,” he said.
Mr Ngwenya said his organisation had to work around the vaccination drives in schools to ensure that they reached out to pupils who were not yet vaccinated or who had reached the 14-day mark after their shot.
“Going forward, we hope to work closer with the vaccination teams so that we co-ordinate efforts and reach out to donors before vaccination to avoid cancellation of blood drives,” he said.
Mr Ngwenya said the Pledge 25 club members, which are made up of out of school youths who were blood donors during their school going days also came through during lockdown when bloodstocks ran low.
Some donors had difficulties reaching NBSZ centres during the lockdown, leading to NBSZ having community outreach meetings to reach out to donors. — @Yolisswa
Article Source: The Chronicle