HARARE – National Blood Services Zimbabwe has made an urgent appeal for stocks of blood type O which is the most common blood type present in 52 percent of the local population.
NBSZ chief executive Lucy Marowa told a press conference yesterday that they only have stocks of the blood O type for only one day at any given time.
Marowa’s appeal comes as government – through a $4,7 million subsidy – reduced the price of a pint of blood from $80 to $50 effective January 1.
“Our stocks at the moment are adequate for groups A, AB and B, however, we have very limited stocks of blood group O due to continued high demand. The proportion which is being demanded from the hospital at times includes 100 percent requests for blood group O only. This accelerates depletion in the blood O stocks.
“When we go into the communities asking only those of blood group O to donate, it does not mean the other types are not important. We just want to collect what we need and is on demand the most. It is the statistics that lead us to this so that we do not waste blood through expiry,” she said.
Blood types are based on the type of a molecule, called agglutinogen, found on the surface of red blood cells. Types A, B, or AB can clump together if mixed, but type O does not react with other types.
Marowa said NBSZ has also been forced to review upwards its collection target, anticipating an increase in the demand for blood due to the reduced price.
She said last year, they collected 63 029 units of blood, narrowly missing their anticipated target of 65 000 units.
“Prior to the reduction in user fees, NBSZ had set a target to collect 70 000 units of blood in 2018. However, that will be reviewed considering the demand that may come. We will only be able to set a target once we have factored in the necessary algorithms,” she said.
Marowa also highlighted that with the $4,7 million subsidy, they want to find ways of making blood more accessible to people in areas that are hard to reach.
Health and Child Care permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji said with adequate support, they are planning that by the end of 2018, the price of blood will have been reduced to $10.
Gwinji said the $10 which they project will also include the fees levied by hospitals for a cross match test which will determine whether the recipient will not react to the blood.
“We also want the NBSZ to take up some space at our health institutions which can be used for storage purposes and also were people can go and donate blood,” Gwinji said.
Among some of the major reasons why people do not donate blood is because of a fear of needles and other personal responsibilities.