Namibian Blood Transfusion Service (NamBTS) currently faces a shortage of blood after blood donations dropped to 50% in three weeks since the Covid-19 lockdown.
NamBTS requires an average of 150 blood donations per weekday to meet the demand for hospitals and medical centres across the country. However, since the Covid-19 lockdown, NAMBTS has only managed to collect on average under a hundred blood donations in three weeks, which has ultimately negatively affected blood reserves throughout the country.
Titus Shivute, educational officer at NamBTS, said the recent declaration of a lockdown in the Khomas and Erongo regions has led to the cancellation of numerous educational, corporate and industrial blood donation clinics countrywide, leading to a significant drop in blood reserves countrywide.
“Due to the cancellation of mobile blood donation clinics and lockdown of the Erongo and Khomas regions due to Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen a 50% drop in blood collections over the past three weeks,” said Shivute.
He emphasised Covid-19 cannot be transmitted through a blood transfusion, as respiratory viruses are generally not known to be transmitted by donation or transfusion.
Thus, blood donors are still allowed and encouraged to travel during the lockdown, as it is categorised essential travel by government.
He further added that with the Easter Holiday approaching, all eligible donors are urged to donate at all the centres this week to help ensure precious lives are saved at a time when trauma-related incidents synonymously rise.
“We have taken the advice of the Ministry of Health and Social Services as well as the World Health Organisation in adjusting the nature of our operations to meet their recommendations, thus making it safe to donate blood during this period,” said Shivute.
Shivute said NamBTS has taken all possible measures to step up hygiene protocols at the clinics. “Our personnel sanitise their hands regularly with soap and water in addition to using hand sanitiser before and after each encounter with a donor. Hand sanitiser is freely available for blood donors and staff to use at blood donation clinics,” stated Shivute.
Furthermore, personnel have been instructed to avoid close contact with people who are sick and to stay at home when they are sick. Cleaning and disinfection procedures for frequently used objects and surfaces have been enhanced. Blood donation stations and beds are kept at reasonable distances to ensure social distancing as far as possible.