THE National Blood Service of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) board chairperson, Advocate Rodgers Matsikidze says they have adopted new strategies to recruit more adult blood donors to ensure the blood bank does not run dry even in the face of an emergency such as the COVID-19.
By Michael Gwarisa
The development comes at the back of revelations that the blood bank only managed to collect slightly above 50% of its 2020 blood collection target. According to Advocate Matsikidze, amongst their new strategies include following up on adults who used to donate as pupils as well as reaching out to new and potential adult blood donors through community outreaches and various campaigns.
Due to the COVID-19, we realized that there can be a time when the country can shut down completely and there are no schools and we will not be able to get children who are of donating age under one place. As a result, we have realized that in most cases, the population that really requires the blood is the adult populace.
“Our shift is now to say, lets follow-up on adult donors who were once pupils, we are now looking at our database, looking and going around, calling making sure also that we do campaigns in areas around and encouraging them,” said Advocate Matsikidze.
He added that they were also making use of blood donor committees for each and every city for example in Harare, Gweru, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Mutare where they would be engaging with key community figures such as religious and traditional leaders to sensitize communities around blood donations.
“We are also looking at health programs like Marathons and health walks and reaching the people there. This is where we see adults, some of them very fit for this kind of an exercise of donating blood. We are very optimistic that we are going to be reaping rewards because already we are saying that even when we had a complete lockdown, still people were able to get blood because we would call Mr X and Y to come and donate.
“So that is our focus and we are trying to do various programs. We are also looking at creating ambassadors amongst civil servants be it in the police, army and private companies so that they come and they also spread the message even artisans, artistes, Journalists, musicians amongst others. Our strategy is very broad, we want to say even if this becomes our permanent normal of having lockdowns, we would still be okay.”
Speaking on the organization’s preparedness to handle the huge demand for blood during the festive season, Advocate Matsikidze said they were more than prepared and the teams were already on the ground to collect blood and ensure the blood bank has sufficient stocks during the season.
The NBSZ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ms Lucy Marowa also concurred with the board chair saying it was time the blood bank shifts from relying on school children for blood donations and expand the net into the adult population.
“I also wish to let you know that we need to shift from relying on the school going donors where we were getting 70% of our blood donations. This year has shown us that that model needs to change. Schools have been closed for over six months and that has shifted the dynamics drastically and that also affected our ability to supply adequately.