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Blood shortage worsens

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By Patience Lunda:

Malawi Blood Transfusion Services (MBTS) and the Society of Medical Doctors (SMD) have bemoaned the shortage of blood in the country, which places a lot of lives at risk.

The development comes hot on the heels of reports that the situation is quite critical among paediatric cancer patients and those undergoing chemotherapy.

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In an interview with Malawi News, MBTS Chief Executive Officer, Natasha Msamala, confirmed the shortage in their blood banks, rendering it incapable of meeting growing demand in public hospitals.

In November last year, public hospitals requested for 12, 500 units of blood for the months of December and January but MBTS only supplied 7,193 units.

She said the reason for the under-collection was the closure of schools for festive season.

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Msamala was nonetheless optimistic that they would manage to cover the shortfall once schools open.

She added that during the rainy season, many people suffer from malaria which usually induces anaemia, thereby increasing blood demand.

“We usually prepare for this shortage by carrying out extensive collections in November when schools are in session to stock up for the festive season but last year, schools closed in mid- November and this greatly affected blood collection,” she said.

To mitigate the shortfall, a stakeholder, SMD, has started a campaign to woo people to start donating blood.

Some hospitals are now even requesting guardians to donate blood for their sick relatives.

SMD president, Victor Mithi, said the problem, which has hit all public hospitals, has further been worsened because some potential blood donors are testing positive for Covid-19, which makes them ineligible to donate blood.

“The problem is bad to the extent that patients are being asked to bring guardians to donate blood but in normal circumstances blood should always be available,” he said.

Mithi said blood is mostly needed when doing surgeries and in the labour ward where a lot of women loose the same when delivering.

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