COVID-19 Affects Blood Recruitment Drive

By Patricia Kapulula

Lilongwe, January 8, Mana: COVID-19 has affected the blood donor recruitment drive which has led to the decline in blood collected across the country thereby worsening blood supply in the country’s hospitals.

The situation has prompted Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) to make a donation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and materials to the Malawi Blood Transfusion Service (MBTS) in order to contribute to the continuity of services.

The donation, worth K5.6 million, consists of face masks, hand sanitisers, hand washing soap, chlorine, alcohol and paper towels.

MRCS Director of Programs, Prisca Chisala, said in Lilongwe on Friday during the donation of the materials that Covid-19 which has affected service delivery of many sectors, has not spared blood collection.

She described the donation as coming in to assist in addressing challenges affecting the blood donation drive amidst Covid-19 pandemic.

“As MRCS, we are aware that Covid-19 has affected service delivery in several sectors of which blood donor recruitment is one of the sectors. We thought of equipping MBTS with protective equipment to protect them from Covid-19 as they continue with blood donor recruitment activities,” she said.

This is not the first time that MRCS is supporting MBTS.

In 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between MRCS and MBTS to support efforts of mobilising blood in the country which has seen MRCS working with MBTS in districts such as Blantyre, Lilongwe, Salima, Mzimba in Blood Donor Recruitment Project.

The project has seen MRCS contributing 2, 800 units of blood to MBTS collections in 2020.

“We will also be scaling up to Mzuzu to support MBTS mobilise blood, to make sure that there is adequate supply of blood in hospitals,” she said.

MBTS Public Relations Manager, Allen Kaombe, concurred with Chisala saying Covid-19 has affected the blood recruitment drive leading to a decline in the number of units the service collects per year.

He attributed the decline to restrictions imposed due to the pandemic saying from June 2019 to July 2020 blood collection went down despite the organisation’s expectation of moving up to collect over 70, 000 units of blood during the year.

“We have had around 20 percent drop in terms of our blood collection. In 2018/2019 we collected around 69, 000 units of blood but with the coming in of Covid-19 we have dropped to 63, 000,” he said.

He was thankful for the donation which he said will go a long way in enforcing preventive measures thereby offering protection to both the staff and clients saying MBTS interacts with a number of stakeholders.

The Swiss Red Cross provided resources that have enabled MRCS equip and protect MBTS staff as they carry out their duties.

Swiss Red Cross has also supported MBTS directly with data systems and blood count machine at MBTS head office in Blantyre.