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‘Zim blood stocks critically low’

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BY PHYLLIS MBANJE

The National Blood Services of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) is requesting urgent blood donations, saying the country’s blood bank is critically low, with only enough to cover a single day.

NBSZ spokesperson Ephraim Mubayi said the shortages were due to the COVID-19 pandemic which created challenges that impacted blood stocks globally.

“We are operating on less than a day’s supply and yet the ideal situation is to have at least five days’ supply,” Mubayi said.

“It’s hard to underscore how damaging the one-two punch of COVID-19 and the lockdown measures have been on the blood bank.”

Last month, NBSZ revealed that the COVID-19-induced closure of schools had negatively impacted the supply of blood as schools were the biggest source of blood.

Mubayi said: “The shortage was not due to more patients needing blood products, but rather reduced numbers of donations coming in.”

“NBSZ is appealing to blood donors who are due or who have not donated for a while and to members of our communities who have not donated before to come forward and make a life-saving donation,” he said.

“The donations will go a long way in ensuring that patients undergoing surgery and receiving treatment for cancer and blood diseases such as leukaemia continue to receive the life-giving transfusions they need.”

He added: “For one to be eligible to donate blood, you must be aged 16 years or older, weigh at least 50kg or more and be in general good health. Donors of all blood types are urged to give blood at their nearest donor centre or mobile blood drives.”

To facilitate this process, clinics will open from 8am to 3pm to provide more opportunities for donors to donate.

Last year, there was another blood shortage due to a shortage of consumables used to collect blood from donors.

Although the issue of consumables has long been resolved, the “cost of blood remains high, especially in private practice,” with patients required to fork out over $10 000 for a unit of blood following adjustments on pricing by the NBSZ last year.

Previously, the same was going for $2 160 and was last adjusted in December 2019.

The new price came into effect on June 15 last year.

The cost of other blood products also shot up, with fresh frozen plasma now pegged at $6 300, and a paediatric pack $4 200. To have a full blood count, one now has to pay $2 100.

However, patients at public facilities still get free blood transfusions.

  • Follow Phyllis on Twitter @pmbanje

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