Community involvement on blood donation an initiative for increasing blood availability

Nothing is comparable to the preciousness of human blood which is the most vital component of human beings. Blood is the only thing which can’t be produced anywhere, it is only inside the human body. Blood sharing is the only means to save a life for those requiring blood.

Parent and Child Health Initiative (PACHI) works in conjunction with the Malawi Blood Transfusion Service (MBTS) to address the shortage of blood in hospitals hence saving lives.

On Thursday February 4, PACHI organized a tour for blood donors from TA Chitukula, Lilongwe to MBTS offices and Bwaila district hospital. The trip was organized as a donor management activity and provide blood donors with a picture on what happens when blood is collected from the community or elsewhere.

“There are a lot of perceptions on blood donation, some believe the blood is sold or used for rituals, the donors were also privileged to visit Bwaila hospital; to understand the need for blood, understand the blood shortage in these institutions and appreciate how their blood they donated saved lives.

Misconceptions and perceptions lead to a decrease in number of people wanting to donate blood; PACHI want to ensure an increased blood donor base in rural communities, turning them into blood ambassadors and activists in saving lives of mothers and children. As they familiarize themselves with the process, understand the blood situation in our hospitals, we expect an increased number of blood donors from rural communities” Said PACHI Project Coordinator Hilda Chapota.

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According to Lilongwe Malawi Blood Transfusion Service Head James Palapandu, MBTS has a target of 80000 units of blood collection per year but only manages to collect 50000 units.

“We only have districts campaigns through open days, clusters where a number of schools meet and we are intensifying media campaigns as one way of expanding our blood donor base. With PACHI Project we noted a great improvement from the rural communities, a lot of people are now donating blood” he said.

In Lilongwe rural, PACHI had targeted 150 units during the last exercise but managed to get 90 units, from the five sites of traditional authority Chitukula, which was shared between MBTS and Bwaila District hospital. PACHI believes that the visit will assist the donors to mobilize more people during the next blood donation campaign scheduled to take place in a weeks’ time.

TA Chitukula Blood Donation Committee Chairperson Frackson Mamba hailed PACHI for the tour. “We have had problems to convince our fellows as there are a lot of perceptions associated with blood donation. We will go back and teach them the whole process and the importance of donating blood” he said.

A week after the cry by Kamuzu Central Hospital on shortage of blood, the blood donors have now changed the tables around. They mobilized others and donated 285 units of blood,

Learning from TA Chitukula, TA Kabudula also started community blood donations where 125 units were collected the same week.

The blood collection model is component of Social Mobilization and Accountability Project which is in 6 districts of Mzimba south and north, Mangochi, Zomba, Thyolo and Lilongwe rural. Engaging communities to respond to issues on maternal and Child Health and in turn save lives.

The initiative is being implemented by PACHI through the Reproductive Maternal New born and Child Health (RMNCH) Project which is being spearheaded by UNICEF.