The National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) and in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrated the World Blood Donor Day on the 14th June 2017 under the theme: “Blood Donation in Emergencies.”

The World Blood Donor Day main commemorations were hosted in Harare whilst mini commemorations were held throughout the NBSZ Branches located in Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo. These celebrations had a variety of activities, which included blood drive campaigns, awareness street marches, media publicity, tour of NBSZ operations and blood donor award ceremonies amongst others.

In honour of the World Blood Donor Day, NBSZ recognises the whole month of June as Blood Donor Month hence the campaign began on the 1st of June with an official launch through a press conference, and was followed by a host of awareness programmes that included a pre-awareness march on the 9th of June in Harare. The blood donor month will conclude with a Scientific Evening, which will have scientific presentations addressing the theme “Blood Donation in emergencies.”  

The guest of honour at the 14th of June main commemorations held in Harare was the Honourable Minister of Health & Child Care, Dr. David Parirenyatwa who was represented by the Chairman of the Health Service Board, Dr Lovemore Mbengeranwa.

Other dignitaries present at the main event were the Minister of State for Harare Metropolitan Province, Honourable M.R. Chikukwa; Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health Hon. Dr Ruth Labode; WHO Country Representative, Dr David Okello; Acting Principal Director Curative Services Dr Maxwell Hove, Director City Health Harare Metropolitan Province Dr Prosper Chonzi; Acting CEO of NetOne Mr Brian Mutandiro; NBSZ Board Chairman Retd Justice Leslie George Smith and Acting NBSZ CEO Dr Jean Emmanuel.

NBSZ recognised a total of 162 blood donors who had attained various milestones in blood donation with the highest milestone being 250 blood donations, which was achieved by two blood donors, Mr. Ernest Hatchett and Buss Julian Ronald. At the same event, NBSZ took the opportunity to also recognise various corporates for their support to the Service in 2016 through a Corporate Award ceremony. National Aids Council of Zimbabwe was recognised for being the most outstanding contributor to NBSZ in 2016, for their support amounting to USD$403 000.

In a speech read on his behalf the Honourable Minister of Health & Child Care Dr. Parirenyatwa, emphasised the importance of blood as a vital resource for treating the wounded during emergencies of all kinds such  as  natural  disasters  and accidents. He said this in light of the horror bus crash along the Harare-Chirundu highway that claimed 42 lives on the spot and left others injured.

“This year’s theme “Blood Donation in Emergencies” relates well with the recent national  disasters and aims to encourage people to strengthen the emergency preparedness of health services in their community by donating blood, engage authorities in the establishment of effective national blood programmes with the capacity  to  respond  promptly  to  the  increase  in  blood  demand  during emergencies” he said.

Dr. Parirenyatwa conceded that user fees of blood continue to be a thorn in the flesh to Government. However he commended the efforts by NBSZ to reduce the blood user fees “In 2016, the blood user fees were reduced from 135,00 per unit to $100,00 for government hospitals and from $160,00 per unit to $120 for the private hospitals. This is an improvement and we are hoping this cost will continue to come down without compromising on the quality of blood” he said.

Delivering the WHO Regional Director’s message at the commemorations, the WHO Country Representative, Dr. David O. Okello added that the choice of the theme is particularly significant for the African Region which is most affected by crises and outbreaks, such as the Ebola Viral Disease epidemic, road traffic accidents,  armed conflicts as well as natural or manmade disasters.

Despite this situation, Dr. Okello commended the progress made so far in improving both the availability and safety of blood in the African Region and especially in Zimbabwe compared to some countries and sub-regions.  “Collecting blood from voluntary, unpaid and regular blood donors has been shown to be safer, more effective and more efficient than family replacement donations.” Dr. Okello averred.

Surgeon Dr Kuda Katurura also reiterated how blood transfusion is an essential component of emergency healthcare. Dr Katurura lauded the NBSZ for ensuring that the health care system remains viable by providing adequate safe blood and blood products that meet hospital needs because without blood, doctors can cancel patients for theatre. However the challenge remains on the accessibility of blood to the patient in the public hospitals, that results in procedures being cancelled due to none payment of blood and blood products by the patient to the hospital.

The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe Managing Director, Mr Obio Chinyere in his address acknowledged the significance of preparedness when road accident emergencies happen.

“Because of blood donors, lives of the injured needing blood are saved in such emergency cases” he said.

According to the gazetted upgraded Highway Code document, in the year 2016, 38 620 road accidents were reported; in which 1 720 people were killed and 11 379 injured, with some sustaining permanent disabilities.  Of those injured, it is likely that the victims needed a blood transfusion.

During the commemorations NetOne presented their cash donation of USD $50,000 to NBSZ and it was presented by Acting CEO Mr Brian Mutandiro. This marked 11 years of support from Net One providing NBSZ with funding for various activities.

Every year on 14 June, Zimbabwe joins the global community to commemorate World Blood Donor Day. This year’s campaign is focusing on blood donation in emergencies. In any crisis or emergency situation, the natural human response is “What can I do? How can I help?” therefore, the slogan for the 2017 campaign is: “What can you do?” with the secondary message “Give blood. Give now. Give often”

The NBSZ donor clinic located on the first floor accessible through the Joina Centenary Bridge link provides a clean, calm, and welcoming environment to all blood donors. In the month of July, Joina City will be hosting a Wildlife Expo from 18 to 21 July, and a wedding expo from 28 to 29th July 2017. These events will pull crowds into the building, and with our partnership with NBSZ, Joina City looks forward to increased donor numbers as we continue to save lives through Blood Donations.

For your questions and answers, please write or contact; Esther Massundah; Public Affairs Manager on 251851, 251854 / 251855-6, 0772162279, 0772162280, 0772162281, 0772162282, 0772162283, 0772162284, 0772162285 or email info@nbsz.co.zw  or like our page on Facebook:- @NBSZ bloodbank or follow us on Twitter: - @NBSZbloodbank

 

 

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