Lockdown affects NBS operations

Fatima Bulla

Funding constraints and international travel restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 induced lockdown have resulted in the National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) battling to procure critical imported consumables used in acquiring blood.

In a statement NBSZ highlighted that supply of blood to health institutions is currently constrained due to shortage of critical imported consumables such as test kits and blood bags.

This comes against the background that many countries around the world have effected lockdowns and imposed travel bans on human traffic with the exception on the movement of essential cargo.

NBSZ spokesperson Ms Esther Massundah said the national blood bank currently has not more than five days of stock noting that most of the consumables are procured outside the continent and delivered by scheduled flights which operate three days a week.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the procurement of these critical items has been delayed due to logistics challenges caused by international travel restrictions which has led to the scarcity of cargo flights.

“Most of the critical items that are used to produce a safe unit of blood are imported and these challenges have not only impacted negatively on Zimbabwe but also other blood services in Africa,” Ms Massundah said.

Since Zimbabwe effected a total lockdown on March 30, whose conditions have been eased in phases, Covid-19 positive cases have accumulated to 203.

Despite the restrictions imposed on the movement of people, Ms Massundah said the shortage of blood supply was not a result of lack of blood donors.

“These above said challenges have resulted in NBSZ reducing its planned blood collection schedules and calling blood donors to our static clinics.

“NBSZ wishes to put it on record that current blood shortages are not due to shortage of donors and thus we would like to sincerely thank our blood donors who have remained committed to donating blood during the lockdown period.

“We look forward to the continued support of our blood donors in ensuring that our blood banks become adequately stocked in order to avert any loss of life attributable to non-availability of blood supplies,” she said.

Ms Massundah said they were expecting arrival of part of the critical supplies on Friday in order to resume normal operations beginning of next week.

The challenges in the collection and supply of blood have taken center stage ahead of the World Blood Donor Day which is celebrated annually on June 14.

The day is set aside by the World Health Organisation to create awareness of the need for safe blood for the benefit of those who require it for survival.

This year’s campaign runs under the theme “Safe blood saves lives”.

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