Rwanda Looks to Meet Blood Transfusion Demand By 2025

Christian Mfashingabo, 25, had always wanted to donate blood but didn’t have adequate information until last year when a campaign for blood donation happened at his school.

He thought to himself that if he is healthy, why not save someone who is not? He then decided to donate blood with hope that it saves a life that needed it.

“If you are healthy with enough blood, it may only benefit you alone while when you save someone who would otherwise lose their life due to inadequate blood, you don’t really lose anything,” Mfashingabo told The New Times.

Since then, he pledged to donate blood at least twice a year, and although he hasn’t fulfilled the pledge, he says he will.

Every year on June 14, the global community marks World Blood Donor Day to focus on the gift of life from voluntary unpaid blood donors around the world, such as Mfashingabo.

With this year’s theme; “donating blood is an act of solidarity. Join the effort and save lives,” more people are encouraged to become regular unpaid blood donors to save more lives.

“Compared to other regions globally, the African Region sees a disproportionate number of conditions requiring donor blood, impacting as many as seven million patients every year.

Examples include haemorrhage associated with pregnancy and childbirth, severe anaemia due to malaria and malnutrition, bone marrow and inherited blood disorders, trauma and accidents, as well as man-made and natural disasters,” read the message from WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.

12 units of blood are consumed every hour in Rwanda, in most cases by malaria patients, pregnant women with severe anaemia, mothers who had birth complications, cancer patients and people who had accidents.

While as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, voluntary unpaid blood donations dropped significantly across Africa, Rwanda has seen a rise in the supply for blood units in 2021 compared to the previous years.

This means that despite limited mobility and other challenges, blood donors in Rwanda have continued to donate blood and plasma to patients who need transfusion.

For instance, there was demand for 100,935 units of blood in 2020, and 93,993 units were supplied, which amounts to 93.12 percent.

In 2021, there was demand for 105,243 units of blood while 102,689 units were supplied, which amounts to 97.57 percent satisfaction in 78 hospitals.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean the remaining satisfaction percentage on supply was not taken care of, but rather that a patient received the blood component units on the following day, or they recovered without additional blood.

While renewed efforts are needed to keep on track, there is no single patient who has died from an unmet blood transfusion demand in Rwandan hospitals since 2005. This is according to Moise Tuyishimire, the Blood Donor Recruitment and Retention Senior Officer at Rwanda Biomedical Centre’s Blood Transfusion Unit.

He told The New Times in an interview that even the reason why the demand for blood transfusion is not met is because of other factors such as challenges in transport and that in 2025, Rwanda will meet the demand on 100 percent.

“We are working on projects to involve more youth in voluntary unpaid blood donations, because they are more likely to be healthy and have many years to live ahead of them,” Tuyishimire said.

He also made a fresh call to people who are eligible to donate blood. “Blood is the ultimate treatment a doctor can give to the patient to save them, and there isn’t an industry that manufactures it. We, people, are the ones who can make it possible,” he noted.

Between 45,000 and 50,000 people in Rwanda donate blood annually.

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