'Accidents eat into blood stocks'

HARARE - The National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) says the ever increasing road accidents are negatively impacting its blood stocks.

NBSZ public relations manager, Tichaona Saira, said although it was currently meeting demand, the organisation was upping its blood collection campaigns to cushion road accident victims from shortages.

“We are safe now, but you know that some blood comes in while some goes out. Considering high road accidents being reported this year, we can, however, not predict security as such. We urge people to come and donate blood, especially those with known O blood group,” said Saira.

He said NBSZ had opened new sites around the country in an effort to increase chances of fulfilling its 9 135 blood units target for the holiday season.

“We are moving into communities because we have to make ourselves as accessible as possible so that people donate blood,” Saira said.

Since December 15, at least 31 people have succumbed to road traffic accidents, while 515 were injured. The fatality rate has increased from 35 to 45 per 1 000 accidents. The festive season ends January 15.

According to the United Nations, road fatalities may exceed HIV/Aids related illnesses by 2020.

Last year, 1 787 people perished in road accidents while 14 131 were injured. About 100 000 blood packs are transfused every year in Zimbabwe, with 60 percent of the bank’s supply being consumed by accident victims and anaemic patients, while 40 percent of collected blood is consumed by haemorrhaging mothers.

One pack of blood is sold at $133 by NBSZ, with hospitals adding a mark-up of about $70 on average, making the product expensive for most Zimbabweans.

Saira said road users should strive to prevent accidents.

“Looking at factors affecting blood supply, I urge all drivers to avoid accidents by exercising caution to save lives and also make sure that the blood bank is not put under preventable pressure,” he said.

Although adults consume 80 percent of NBSZ supplies, they only donate 30 percent of the blood.

Meanwhile, NBSZ has stepped-up dietary education to eliminate iron deficiencies preventing many young people from donating.

“Despite proving to be doing well and responsible as far as sexually transmitted diseases are concerned, Hundreds are failing to pass a health check done before donating blood for lacking in major blood ingredients such as copper sulphate”.

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