The importance of blood in one’s life could never be overemphasized. The billions of cells in our bodies need a steady supply of oxygen to function properly, a function critical to blood.
Zambia for example collects an average of 115,742 units of blood annually (based on 1% of national population) currently short the 150,000 units the country needs to service everyone in need of this life saving fluid. With high and rapidly increasing demand for blood and blood products, the annual units of blood needed are estimated at 300,000 units.
To support the Zambia National Blood Transfusion Service (ZNBTS), CIDRZ in collaboration with ZNBTS conducted a blood drive for its employees to donate blood to the blood bank, with 21 employees donating blood.
CIDRZ CEO, Dr Izukanji Sikazwe commended ZNBTS; “we appreciate the efforts of ZNBTS in saving the lives of millions of Zambian in need of blood. CIDRZ has benefited from your services because barely two weeks ago, one of our staff members life was saved through blood transfusion and as an organisation, we thought it would be prudent to support ZNBTS’s efforts through the blood donation drive we are having today”.
And Dr Joseph Mulenga, Medical Director at ZNBTS highlighted some of the challenges being faced by the blood bank in meeting its annual targets.
“Countrywide Scale up of cancer treatment, cardiac surgery, renal treatment, increased hospital bed space through the upgrading of hospitals and newly built hospitals country wide, high prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis B Virus in the general population, lack of a cost recovery or re-imbursement scheme to fill the financing gap and reliance only on government for funding are some of the challenges faced by ZNBTS”.
Dr Mulenga said added to the challenges is lack of Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAT) to complement serologic tests for testing of blood for Transfusion Transmissible Infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B Virus and Hepatitis C Virus and capacity for Apheresis, Stem Cell collection and processing, Leucodepletion and Gamma Irradiation of products, HLA, Tissue Typing and Pathogen Inactivation procedures.
To mitigate these challenges ZNBTS has established Provincial Blood Transfusion Centre in all the 10 provinces to mobilize and recruit more voluntary non remunerated blood donors, conduct blood donor counseling, implement blood donor retention programmes & promote repeat blood donations.
Other measures include collecting 300,000 blood units (2% of estimated national population) per year, scale up blood component production, implement Apheresis procedures at 10 Centre’s, collect Platelets, FFP, plasma, 2-RBCs, source plasma, granulocytes, HLA typing, Irradiation, leucodepletion stem cell harvesting, implement ID-NAT testing procedures, promotion of rational use of blood & blood products and introduction of a partial cost recovery programme.