Zimbabwe Celebrates 20 Years of Blood Donation, Calls for Sustained Efforts


By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Reporter.

Map of Southern Africa showing the location of Zimbabwe. Click on image to enlarge.


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2024. Every year on June 14th, Zimbabwe joins the global community in commemorating World Blood Donor Day, a moment to honor those who selflessly donate their blood to save lives. This year's commemoration holds special significance, marking a milestone of two decades of this selfless act.


One such dedicated donor is 43-year-old Isaac Bheta. Despite initial hesitations due to misconceptions, Mr. Bheta made his first donation in the year 2000 at Gwindigwi High School in Bikita. Moving to Gweru exposed him to a more positive environment and he has since donated 75 times. "I managed to inspire 4 people and I hope more people will start donating blood because I know that it saves lives," Bheta declares, reflecting on his journey.


However, like in most developing countries, the demand for blood continues to outpace supply. The Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable Sleiman Kwidini, highlighted the ongoing challenge, "The success of blood collections depends on community support as the significant increase in hospital blood usage underscores the need for regular donations."


While Zimbabwe boasts one of the region's highest blood collection rates of 5.6 units per 1000 population, it still falls short of the desired African Region target of 10 units. The World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Zimbabwe, Dr. Desta Tiruneh, commended the government's 2018 initiative to provide free blood services in public health institutions. He emphasized the initiative's impact on accessibility and encouraged wider participation in blood donation drives.


"WHO urges the Government of Zimbabwe to fulfill its commitment to fully subsidize NBSZ, allowing them to reduce fees and make blood more affordable in the private sector which is now providing essential health services to an increasing proportion of the population," Dr. Tiruneh emphasized.


WHO's decade-long support for Zimbabwe includes technical and financial assistance to improve blood product availability, quality and safety. This involves developing policies, establishing regulatory systems and building capacity for effective oversight.


As Zimbabwe celebrates 20 years of blood donation, the message is clear: a sustainable blood supply relies on a combination of community engagement, continued government support and affordable access across all healthcare systems. The selfless acts of donors like Isaac Bheta serve as inspiration however concerted efforts from all stakeholders are crucial to meeting the nation's growing demand for safe blood products.


Source: World Health Organization Newsroom.



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Published: JUNE 19, 2024

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