By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi Blood Transfusion Service (MBTS), a non-profit organisation established by the Ministry of Health in 2003 to ensure safe and adequate supply of blood to hospitals throughout the country, fails to meet the target it is required to collect of 120,000 units of blood annually but only manages 63,000 units.
However, the under-collection challenge was exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic as its voluntary donors were not forthcoming due to preventive measures of restricting movements.
Most of the voluntary donors are secondary and college learners who patronise MBTS’ collection vans which visit their learning institutions but these learners had been on COVID-19 holiday since March but when schools reopened they went straight preparing for their examinations.
MBTS also visits work places, places of worship, communities and clubs with the strong message that the under-collection of blood puts lives of many patients at risk.
On average an adult has approximately 5 litres of blood and one can only donate the maximum quantity of 450mls, which is less than 10 percent of the total blood.
The donation process takes just 10-15 minutes. A single pint of blood can save the lives of 3 adults of 3-4 children, as the blood is separated into components and paediatric packs respectively.
It is for this reason that MYU, the philanthropy arm of Muslims in the country, is holding its second donation camp to be at Mpingwe Sports Club in Limbe for brothers and at Rawdhatul Yatama Orphange at Mudi for sisters from 8am-5pm.
Project coordinator, Imran Larry said they are doing this in cognizance of the need that the countries’ brothers and sisters face in various health centers, who need blood to improve their health conditions.
“We believe this is as an act of service to human welfare,” he said. “We face different problems in our societies and we can only solve them if we collectively come together in this manner to make our world a better place for everyone.
“One of our core values is to assist those in need whenever possible and since we have many other initiatives we have undertaken since the formation of MYU in 2014 we included the Blood Donation Camp as one of them.
“We are urging our members and the general public to join us because it is important to help MBTS, which indicates that COVID-19 affected their blood collection,” Imran said.
He thanked other partners who have contributed in kind towards the whole event — Pakistan Welfare Association; Bilal Trust; Blantyre Muslim Jamaat; Islamic Information Bureau; Limbe Muslim Jamaat; Islamic Health Association of Malawi and others, saying every contribution made “is invaluable and will go a long way to make the day-long event easy to manage”.
During last year’s event at Mpingwe Sports Club, MBTS collected 59 pints (26.550 litres) from 59 men.
This year’s event has been joined by Muslim sister’s blood donation camps from Rawdhatul-Yatama; Ray of Islam; Kanjedza Sisters; Road To Relief; Muslim Women Organisation; Muslim Sisters Youth Organisation; International Muslim Women Union and Islamic Information Bureau.
“A sisters’ blood donation program was not conducted last year as we wanted to first gauge our ability to hold one such camp, Imran said.
“After comfortably being able to host the program, with the priceless assistance of the collaborating partners, we have decided to expand our horizons and attempt to host a females-only blood donation camp.”
MYU was formed as a WhatsApp group as one way of empowering Muslim youths and later the idea to become a philanthropy group was born.
Since then, it has carried many projects, among them a donation of 10 wheelchairs to Kachere Rehabilitation Centre which was a carry over of what they did in December last year when they presented various physiotherapy equipment to Kachere Rehabilitation Centre, MACOHA and FEDOMA that included 120 wheelchairs, 20 walkers and 100 walking sticks.
They have also adopted neurosurgical and orthopaedic wards at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre under the name ‘We Care’ — which they refurbished and provided with a new washing machine and new chairs and benches for the nurses quarters.
Last year, MYU included a feeding programme at Queens every Wednesday in which they supply food items for the kitchen.
The feeding programme started when MYU donated 273kgs of meat to Queens in the celebration of Eid al-Adha Festival of the Sacrifice and having been appraised of the nutritional challenges the hospital faces, they decided to initiate the feeding programme.
“Going forward, we have many more exciting and beneficial projects that are in the pipeline, though five of our major youth-led departments — Mentorship; Sports And Entertainment; Health; ICT and Humanitarian,” Imran said.