BY Brenna Matendere
The National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) yesterday launched a key project to replenish the country’s depleted blood bank in partnership with social media giant Facebook to become the second country in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to achieve the feat.
Kojo Boakye, Facebook Africa public policy director told journalists during a virtual Press conference that Zimbabwe after South Africa now had a prestigious application that will see blood donors joining the digital platform that helps in the collection of the life-saving liquid.
“The Blood Feature application being launched today (yesterday) will be on Facebook. Willing donors from around Zimbabwe can log in and each time the NBSZ makes outreaches in communities to collect blood, notifications are sent out there. The willing blood donors will therefore donate blood in places nearer to them and all schedules that include venues will be posted on that application,” he said.
Boakye said outside Sadc, six countries had made similar partnerships with Facebook which have greatly improved blood collections.These are Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal.
Abroad, the United States, Bangladesh, Brazil and India are the only countries with blood application.
NBSZ spokesperson Esther Massundah reiterated that there was need to switch to new ways of blood collection following setbacks created by the COVID-19-induced lockdown that restricts movement of donors.
“COVID-19 has shown the need to come up with more innovative ways of recruiting blood donors in an environment where people are encouraged to stay at home. Traditional marketing methods and strategies are now irrelevant,” she said.
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“So our goal is to use the Facebook platform to reach out and recruit blood donors during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and enhance awareness on the NBSZ blood donation activities which will be taking place at different NBSZ static clinics and mobile collection sites in the community. We hope to land positive coverage for the Zimbabwe blood programme on a global initiative.”
Community Working Group on Health director Itai Rusike said the project would boost blood supplies because most young people who form the majority of donors were on Facebook. “The youths, who are techno-savvy are Facebook users, so the project will boost collections. When we talk about blood we are talking of a critical component of life so the project needs to be supported.
We also urge NBSZ to partner with civic society organisations that work in rural areas so that more blood collections can be realised in those areas,” he said.