There is need to create sustainable approaches toward blood transfusion services in a bid to continue saving the lives of citizens.
The remarks were made by Dr Swaibu Gatare, the Division Manager of the National Centre for Blood Transfusion at the Rwanda Biomedical Center, on the occassion of the World Blood Donor Day that was marked yesterday.
World Blood Donor Day is celebrated on June 14 annually.
This year’s celebrations were held under the theme, “Give blood. Give now. Give often.”
The day is celebrated as a way of acknowledging the heroic act of blood donors to save lives and also to be able to increase awareness among those who haven’t turned out to donate blood.
He said that Rwanda has made significant strides in terms of blood donation.
For example, the units of blood collected have been on a positive trend over the years.
Hospital satisfaction is currently at 96%, meaning that when a hospital comes to request for 10 units of blood there is a capacity to provide 9.6 units.
Up to 528 permanent mobile blood collection sites have been created country-wide. In 2014, 48932 units were collected, 53438 in 2015 and 61306 in 2016.
But Gatare said that challenges still prevail regardless of the strides made.
They include the withdrawal of external donors for the National Centre for Blood Transfusion.
“The division has been largely supported by external funders and they have withdrawn but we have to do our best to maintain high levels of health care regardless, since patients will always need these services,” he added.
He maintained that the government is doing everything to ensure that the transfusion services are not affected.
“We are looking at how we can initiate some income generating activities. For instance, we are looking at ways we can utilise some of the excess blood components that hospitals have not consumed to be used, for instance, in the manufacturing of medicine, we are also looking at the possibility of cost cutting for sustainability of the programme.”
On increasing the number of blood donors, he said, different strategies are in place including reaching out to government and non- government entities to establish collaborations.
There has been a 15 percent increase every year in the demand for blood components for the past three years. Blood components supplied in 2015 were 65825 while in 2016 they were 70835.
Blood units targeted for this year are 91,000, a 48.5 per cent increase compared to 2016.
Drones delivering blood
To achieve this, the division is planning to increase the number of blood collection sessions, improve on resources, and also carry out various campaigns encouraging people to donate blood.
Rwanda and Namibia are the only countries to have reached the top most level of accreditation by the Africa Society for Blood Transfusion.
Rwanda now hosts the only Africa Society for Blood Transfusion collaborating centre.
In 2016 Rwanda hosted a congress of the Africa Society for Blood Transfusion which brought over 400 delegates.
The country’s blood policy is such that blood is donated free-of-charge and must be issued to patients free-of-charge.
In a bid to improve accessibility to blood and other essential medicines and to shorten the turnaround time between ordering and receiving blood, Rwanda has embraced use of unmanned Aerial Systems/Drones as an effective and efficient mode of delivering blood to patients.