Chief Executive Officer-PACHI Parent and Child Health Initiative – Evidence for Action-Mamaye campaign Charles Makwenda says the formation of village blood donor associations in Malawi has the potential of addressing blood shortage problem in Malawi.
Makwenda said this on when he was showcasing to the delegates at the 2015 Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference taking place in Mexico City in Mexico the blood collection model being used in blood collection in rural areas.
“In Malawi, Maternal mortality is still unacceptably high despite the fact that we have managed to reduce the cases, 23.2 percent of institutional maternal deaths are due to Hemorrhage and 66 percent of blood collected by the Malawi Blood Transfusion Trust (MBTS) is used for maternity and pediatric cases,” he said.
According to Makwenda, Malawi faces 31.3 percent unmet blood demand.
“MBTS has heavy reliance on schools and colleges for blood donations but the secondary school going population is getting younger,” he noted.
He said the rural populations have been neglected in blood donation campaigns hence the proposal of engaging them on the same.
Makwenda said they use five steps to engage the rural community in blood collection.
“The first step, data on maternal deaths due to hemorrhage and on blood availability is collected, analyzed and packaged into factsheets in local languages and shared with rural communities, to raise awareness of blood shortage.
“Then local leaders and communities are inspired to form village blood committees to lead blood donation mobilization,” he explained.
He said at district level, a multi sectoral team is formed to coordinate blood donations initiatives which include mobilization of funds and training of village blood committees.
“Another step, blood committees facilitate continuous blood donation sensitizations using locally available mobilization strategies such as traditional dances. Packaged evidence on blood is used to inspire communities for blood donation,” he said.
According to Makwenda, blood committees with support from the ministry of health organizes blood donation week.
“Malawi Blood Transfusion Services (MBTS) collect and screen blood during the blood donation week. The collected safe blood is shared between district hospital and MBTS in a ratio of 7:3,” he said.
Makwenda said blood donors registered during the blood donation week are grouped to form village blood donor associations which act as village based blood donor base and also a structure for community blood donation sensitizations
He said evidence driven advocacy on blood within rural communities promotes strong participation in blood donations, suggesting that village blood collection model has potential of addressing blood shortage in Malawi.
In Mchinji, 71 and 284 pints of blood were collected during the first and second exercises respectively, representing 300 percent increase whilst in Balaka, 85 and 219 pints of blood were collected during the first and second exercise respectively, representing 157.6 percent increase.