WHO lauds progress in national blood collection

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LINEO MABEKEBEKE

MASERU – Among World Health Organisation (WHO)’s African Region member states, Lesotho has made significant progress in collecting, testing, storing and distributing blood and blood products, a service that gives patients access to safe blood and products with the aim of progressing to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).This notable progress aside, WHO says only a few countries have blood services that are designed to always ensure the highest levels of quality and safety for patients and donors.

In an interview, Lesotho Blood Transfusion Services principal laboratory technologist, Khotso Kalake, said they only achieved this through their strong partnership with the Lesotho Mounted Police Services (LMPS) members, using their varied efforts collect blood for the facility. He said they are also supported by members of the public who voluntarily donate blood to save lives.

Kalake said although progress has been made, the facility still lacks blood as most Basotho do not donate blood because of some personal fears. “We appeal to those who might have fear to visit our facility to get clarity and get more information on blood donation,” he noted.

He added that lack of information and education on blood donation is a challenge facing the country, therefore they are willing to share as much information with Basotho as they can so that correct information is received countrywide. Although the LBTS is yet to reach the two districts of Mokhotlong and Qacha’s Nek on blood collection campaigns, due to their location, their plan is to traverse the entire country for blood donation services to create a safe and sustainable supply of blood and blood products that can always be available to needy patients.

Kalake said a lot of people still donate when there is an emergency, while some donate for their family members, and appealed to them to donate frequently. Since every single donation is a precious lifesaving gift and repeating donation is key to building a safe and sustainable blood supply, WHO says countries must address persistent challenges to ensure sustainable access to safe and quality-assured blood and blood products for the needy patients.

“Through our collaborative efforts, we must raise adequate and sustainable funding and increase blood donation rates. We also need to build the capacity of countries to separate donated blood into its components such as red cell concentrates and inappropriate clinical transfusion practices,” WHO Regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti noted.

In recognition of World Blood Donor Day, which is observed every year on June 14 to raise awareness of safe blood and blood products, WHO celebrates individuals who donate blood.

It encourages all to join efforts to ensure access to safe blood for all in need and recognises the critical roles of regular voluntary unpaid blood and plasma donations in achieving universal access to safe blood products for all populations. Governments, partners and all stakeholders are encouraged to mobilise support at district, national and regional levels to invest in strengthening and sustaining blood programmes, while donating blood is an act of solidarity. Becoming a blood donor will help ease the pressure on health systems and save lives.

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