Malawi Red Cross Society donates PPEs to Malawi Blood Transfusion Service

* COVID-19 affects blood recruitment drive

* Situation worsens blood supply in the country’s hospitals

* Ministry of Health to permanently recruit health workers on internship

* A number of health workers have tested COVID-19 positive and are on isolation

By Patricia Kapulula & Daniel Namwini, MANA

Malawi Blood Transfusion Service (MBTS) blood banks have declined thereby worsening blood supply in the country’s hospitals across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donors are hard to come by

This has prompted Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) to donate personal protective equipment (PPEs) MBTS in order for the organisation to continue wooing potential donors in the wake of the second wave of the pandemic.

MRCS has this presented face masks, hand sanitisers, hand washing soap, chlorine, alcohol and paper towels worth K5.6 million.

At the presentation ceremony in Lilongwe on Friday, MRCS’ director of programs, Prisca Chisala said COVID-19 has affected service delivery of many sectors and has not spared blood collection drive.

She said their intervention is to assist in addressing challenges affecting the blood donation drive by equipping MBTS with protective equipment to protect them from COVID-19 as they continue with blood donor recruitment activities.

This is not the first time that MRCS is supporting MBTS — 2014, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the two organizations to support efforts of mobilising blood in the country.

MRCS has been working with MBTS in districts such as Blantyre, Lilongwe, Salima, Mzimba in blood donor recruitment project, which  has seen MRCS contributing 2,800 units of blood to MBTS collections in 2020.

Coronavirus alert

“We will also be scaling up to Mzuzu to support MBTS mobilise blood to make sure that there is adequate supply of blood in hospitals,” she said.

Public relations manager for MBTS, Allen Kaombe attributed the decline to restrictions imposed due to the pandemic, saying from June 2019 to July 2020 blood collection went down despite the organisation’s target of collecting over 70,000 units of blood during the year.

“We have had around 20% drop in terms of our blood collection,” he said. “In 2018/2019 we collected around 69,000 units of blood but with the coming in of COVID-19 we have dropped to 63,000,” he said.

He was thankful for the donation which he said will go a long way in enforcing preventive measures, thereby offering protection to both the staff and clients saying MBTS interacts with a number of stakeholders.

Coronavirus alert

The Swiss Red Cross provided resources for MRCS staff to be well equipped and to protect MBTS staff as they carry out their duties.

Swiss Red Cross has also supported MBTS directly with data systems and blood count machine at MBTS head office in Blantyre.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Health says it will permanently recruit health workers who are on internship and those on voluntary basis to help the health sector in the COVID-19 fight.

Minister of Health, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda disclosed this on Thursday during a media briefing in Lilongwe, saying a lot of health care workers, have tested positive to COVID-19 and are on isolation — a situation which has caused the workload to increase.

Coronavirus Alert

“Therefore, Government is targeting those who are already on the ground, especially interns and volunteers, who have been in the field for quite a long period of time assisting patients including those on COVID-19 to be employed on permanent basis,” she said.

The Minister, who is also co-chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the recruitment will help fill the gap which is already there in hospitals.

“As a country we are in a mess at the moment due to [the second wave of the] COVID-19 and government is doing everything possible to ensure that people are safe by providing them (health facilities) with adequate personal protective equipments (PPEs) and more drugs all the time,” she said.

Coronavirus alert

As one way of making sure that there is no any further spread of the virus, the Ministry has increased the number of testing centres in the country.

Lilongwe Bwaila Hospital, Mzuzu at Mapale Health Centre next to Shoprite while in Blantyre’s is Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and Kameza quarantine centre.

Malawi has so far registered 7, 611 total confirmed cases with 203 deaths.

Thursday’s situation report