Donating blood to curb maternal deaths

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) says severe bleeding after childbirth is among top five major complications leading to maternal deaths.

The other four include postdelivery infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, complications from delivery and unsafe abortion. These factors contribute to nearly 75 per cent of all maternal deaths.

Global data indicate that every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth and 99 per cent of all the deaths occur in developing countries.

Severe bleeding after childbirth also known as postpartum bleeding or postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is often defined as the loss of more than 500 ml or 1,000 ml of blood within the first 24 hours following childbirth.

Several Tanzanian women face the same situation, prompting Kagera Region to come up with campaign for blood donation to boost the regional blood bank.

“We don’t face shortage of safe blood, we are collecting enough of it for the regional bank,” says Dr Marco Mbata, Kagera Regional Medical Officer.

Dr Mbata explains that the region has set a target of collecting 300 units of blood per month from each district, an exercise which goes together with awareness campaign among residents to make the latter have feelings of volunteering for saving lives.

According to him, the campaign and collection of safe blood have gained momentum after health sector stakeholders came in to support the new endeavour. Dr Mbata credits the USAID Boresha Afya project for extending financial and material support to the region to collect more blood.

The five-year programme, which started in 2016, empowers the region by providing transport for blood collection team members and items required during blood collections. At the Regional Hospital, the ‘Woman Magazine’ visited the safe blood centre and found some residents donating blood.

One of them, Mr Nuru Kashakara, a resident of Rwamishenyi, remarks that he donates blood after realising that he has the responsibility to save lives of fellow Tanzanians.

“My relative who had been admitted here at the hospital and she needed blood transfusion to survive, thanks God that the hospital had the blood…so I have learnt that donating is crucial to enable the hospitals save lives,” he said. He urges, “I call upon more people to have heart…there are many patients in need of blood transfusion.”

Another donor, Ms Odeta Kakuba, had to donate blood after she had been informed that her relative had delivered and needed blood. Regional Safe blood collection team coordinator, Bashweka Amos informs that the project provides incentives such as documents and allowances to members when at field.

“Sufficient blood makes us able to save lives and we are certain that the new target of each district to collect 300 units per month would be reached,” he said, hence making a total of 1,200 units from all four districts of Misenyi, Bukoba, Ngara and Biharamulo.

The government recently announced that it would install automated Analyser, which is a medical laboratory instrument designed to measure different chemicals quickly with minimal human assistance, in all public hospitals with blood banks to facilitate donated blood testing.

Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, pointed out that the machines will also be used to screen HIV and Viral Hepatitis free of charge.

"The machines will help to speed up the process to test donated blood for transfusion in hospitals with blood banks," said the Minister when the nation joined the rest of the world in marking the bold donation day.

This year, the country marked the World Blood Donation Day in the Dodoma capital city. Under the theme, 'Be there for someone else. Give blood.

Share Life', this year's annual event aimed at thanking voluntary unpaid blood donors for their life saving gifts of blood and raise awareness for the regular need to donate blood.

Ms Mwalimu hinted that the government is targeting to collect 375,203 pints of blood before the end of this year, in order to attain 60 per cent from the current 45 per cent of the actual demand, pointing out that it is equivalent to seven pints of blood for every 1,000 people. "The collection of blood bottles will tremendously help to save lives of mothers and infants," she added.

Ms Mwalimu said Katavi tops the list with 94 per cent of the regions targeted to collect the blood pints, followed by Lindi - 79 per cent and Coast third with 66 per cent. She cited regions with poor performance in blood collection as Songwe (16 per cent), Mbeya (20 per cent) and Tabora (22 per cent).

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), every country should collect at least 10 pints of blood for every 1,000 people (which is equivalent to one person in the country's population) in order to meet the actual demand. In another development, the government said it will ensure that no one dies from blood loss; as it will set up Blood Donor Clubs for people with rare blood groups to assist.

Ms Mwalimu stated that such clubs would encourage people with rare blood groups like O-ve, A-ve, B-ve and AB-ve to frequently donate blood.

"This will enable national blood bank to preserve enough safe blood for later use in blood transfusion for people with rare blood types," the Minister stressed when marking the day.


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