The National Blood Service Zimbabwe says it is continuing to urge Zimbabweans push the culture of giving blood to ensure the country is not overwhelmed with blood shortages during this festive season.
NBSZ, the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe along with other partners including Telone and the Health Journalist Association, launched this year’s annual festive season blood drive campaign geared at boosting participation from not only the youth as well as adults.
The blood service is targeting the two demographics in separate campaigns in hopes of raising awareness and over nine thousand units of blood.
National Blood Service Zimbabwe spokesperson Esther Masunda said for the adult campaign, the blood service is running donations at clinics, which has increased participation.
The NBSZ is pushing for 9,135 units of blood and will continue adjusting their number as the season continues. Masunda urges Zimbabweans to continue donating through the year, and calls for young people to join their ‘Pledge 25’ campaign and others including adults to seek out information for regular blood donations.
“We’ve got a donor base of over 50,000 so what we normally do is go into our donor base and see the people that are due, we also see the people who have lapsed. We are also doing it through our brand ambassadors through disseminating information through the media,” said Masunda.
The festive season has proven to be a fragile time for the blood service and hospitals as deadly road crashes put a major strain on the nation’s blood supply, requiring increased reserves from donors.
Last year according to the Zimbabwe Republic Police, 64 people had been killed and 311 injured in 738 road accidents mid-festive season.
But some people have opted out of donating for various reasons, including the fear of finding out their HIV status. Masunda said the blood service does not function as a HIV testing center, but does inform donors of their status through a provided waiver.
“What happens is that when the donor comes through to donate blood they actually fill in a form and on that indicates in terms of should something be found wrong with their blood, it’s not just about the HIV is maybe something else besides that, they can indicate their counselor or doctor and the results are sent to their doctor.”
The blood service provides information about donating through its various programs and motivational talks done during the process. Masunda said as people come to donate they are also taken through the process to help reduce the fear and answer any questions about the process.