Posted by Haagen Cumlet on Jun 21, 2012

Source: The Botswana Gazette/Google 

Francistown: The 80 percent set target of blood donations as contained in the blood safety strategy for the African region will be difficult to  achieve due to decline from voluntary donors, Botswana's Minister of Health, John Seakgosing, fears.

While Botswana's National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) is required to collect 40,000 units per year, the country is experiencing some challenges because of decline in blood collection.

Over the years the secondary schools have been the primary source of blood donation contributing 60 percent of blood donated annually, but it has also since gone down. 

In fact, the country is still below the target by 23,500 units of blood.

“We only managed to collect 16,500 units last year which is the decline by 21 percent,” said the Minister   during the World Blood Donor Day commemorations.

The minister said while it is worth noting that the HIV prevalence in donated blood decreased to 0.97 percent in 2010, it is surprising for donations to be declining adding that it should be an indication of the safety of blood transfused.

He said since it is his ministry’s responsibility to provide the
 necessary resources to ensure that 100 percent voluntary blood donations is maintained, the NBTS  has identified the need to establish the recall  system as a way of retaining  regular donors.

“Inadequate supply of blood across the world has a significant contribution to high mortality rate therefore the very stake-holder has to wake up and do everything possible to support national blood donation campaigns,” emphasized Seakgosing.

World Health Organization's (WHO) Representative Eugene Nyarko noted that while yearly needs are estimated at eight million units of blood in the Africa region, countries are able to collect only half of the required quantity.

“So the gap to be filled is still substantial especially in rural areas where the majority of the population and patients live,” he said.

The WHO Representative said although Botswana has experienced decline in blood
donations, the recent survey carried by WHO indicated that out of 77 countries in Africa, Botswana has the third highest number of donors under the age of 18. He noted that 55 percent of blood donors are aged 18 and below.