Blood donation awareness week commences Sunday

The Malawi Blood Transfusion Service (MBTS) in conjunction with Ministry of Health will conduct a Blood Donation Awareness Week from Monday November 21 to Sunday 27, 2011.

According to a statement issued by MBTS, the theme of this year’s blood donation awareness week is ‘Become a blood donor, remain a blood donor’.

The statement, issued on Friday and signed by MBTS Public Relations Officer Allen Kaombe and made available to Nyasa Times, says the initiative is aimed at collecting enough blood to meet high demand during the rainy season when Malaria incidences are very high.

“The exercise is conducted with the financial support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” says MBTS, adding that Malawi requires at least 80,000 units of the blood per year.

Steven Kumwamba donates blood in one of the hospitals in Blantyre, Malawi. – Photo by Josephine Chinele

According to the statement, the demand for blood is highest in the rainy season due to high incidence of malaria-induced anaemia. Coincidentally, blood collections are very low in December and early January due to long school holidays and Christmas and New Year festivities, says the statement.

“As a result, the MBTS and the Ministry of Health will conduct the BDAW to increase blood collections in order to meet blood requirements during this period,” reads the statement, adding that the BDAW will be marked by formal launch on Sunday November 20, 2011 from 7:30 in the morning to 12:00 noon and that Health Minister Dr. Jean Kalirani will be the Guest of Honour.

During the actual week, blood collection sessions will be conducted at all MBTS centres in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu. It will also be in other districts including Zomba, Mzuzu, Mulanje, Balaka, Thyolo, Chikhwawa, Nkhotakota, Phalombe, Mchinji, Nkhata-Bay, Rumphi, Kasungu,Karonga, Dowa, Salima, Dedza and Ntchisi, according to the statement.

“MBTS and the Ministry of Health would therefore like to appeal to everyone in Malawi to take part by giving blood or encourage others to donate blood. This collective effort will ensure that our hospitals have sufficient blood supplies for everyone who may need it,” the statement concludes.

The Malawi Government established the MBTS with funding from the European Commission (European Union).

The overall objective of MBTS is to reduce the incidence of HIV/Aids and other diseases transmissible by blood and blood products and to ensure the appropriate clinical use of blood through the establishment of a centralized and sustainable blood transfusion service that will provide a safe and adequate blood supply through all health care facilities.

Blood transfusion is the process of transferring blood or blood-based products from one person into the circulatory system of another. Blood transfusions can be life-saving in some situations, such as massive blood loss due to trauma, or can be used to replace blood lost during surgery.

Blood transfusions may also be used to treat a severe anaemia or thrombocytopenia caused by a blood disease. People suffering from hemophilia or sickle-cell disease may require frequent blood transfusions. Early transfusions used whole blood, but modern medical practice commonly uses only components of the blood.

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