Consequences of Blood Sucking Rumours

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Published Date Written by Allen Trench Kaombe

Consequences of Blood Sucking Rumours

As rumours of blood sucking keep on spiraling, if unchecked, it may come a time when they can spread far away from the affected southern parts of the country of Mulanje, Phalombe, Chiradzulu and Nsanje. If these rumours are then entrenched, the country should bear for negative multi-faceted consequences on the gains Malawi has on voluntary blood donation since Malawi Blood Transfusion Service was established in 2003.

In 2004, voluntary blood donation began starting with Blantyre as the first branch of MBTS was introduced there. The critical tasks were those of establishing operational relationships with various stakeholders and collecting blood.

Relationships were created with leadership from places of work and worship, colleges and secondary schools, health surveillance assistants, traditional leaders, information officers, non-governmental organization with grassroots structures. All will note that more chunk of our population is based in the rural areas and this is also where more blood is collected.

Further rural areas are places where more efforts were being directed now in order to engrain the ethos of voluntary non-remunerated blood donation.

After around 14 years of advocating for voluntary blood donation, an obstacle in blood sucking arises and it is threating to erode the gains Malawi has made in blood donation. The country began with 5000 units of blood in 2004 and is now collecting 60, 000 units, a significant fit of progress which other countries can register. The gain is obvious.

Do we want to lose such gains in times when strategically voluntary blood donation is being targeted at rural areas? No! We as a country cannot afford to do that because of mere rumours of blood sucking.

For blood donation activity to happen, various stakeholders take part. It depends on the area or institution. If we are visiting a traditional authority, we start with a meeting with the area development committees, sensitizing on voluntary blood donation. The meeting draws hospital officials from health promotion, laboratory, health surveillance assistances and ADC members headed by the traditional authority. Then sensitization and blood collection dates are set.

These people live in the rural areas where we were supposed to inculcate the spirit of voluntary blood donation. With these rumours of blood donation, the traditional authorities are now being targeted. They are living in fear. If the people peddling rumours of blood sucking are beating and killing chiefs, what more hospital personnel, MBTS staff, ADC members and other stakeholders?

These blood sucking rumours surely can take us backwards. As for schools in rural areas just like in towns, head teachers and patrons are in the fore front advocating for blood donation. They even help motivating pupils to donate blood, sometimes citing cases whereby they were assisted amid blood shortage at the hospital. How can they now encourage pupils to donate blood? The mere altering of blood donation word is leading into one being beaten or torched to death, as a suspected blood sucker.

May be figures can speak for themselves as a matter of illustration of what we are about to face if this bizarre situation is not checked. In the months of July, August and September 2016, MBTS collected 6600 units of blood in southern parts of Malawi.  In contrast, only around 4600 units of whole blood have been collected in the same period, a drop of 31 percent.

The figures are obvious. Further in the same period under illustration, MBTS visited 277 sites in 2017 versus 299 in 2016 in southern region. The figures are almost the same in terms of sites visited. But what has happened to the number of units of blood.

 

The ultimate pay is by the patients in the hospitals. Are we going to allow these rumours erode our registered progress and put patients’ lives at risk? We cannot afford as a country. Let’s work together to enhance the gains we have made in as far as voluntary blood donation is a concern.