Students as voluntary unpaid donors remain the main source of safe blood and blood products in the Kingdom of Eswatini. This was revealed during the World Blood Donor Day commemoration held on 14 June in Manzini. The theme for this year's commemoration was "Safe blood for all". The event recognised the noble gesture by regular blood donors in ensuring timely availability of sufficient and safe quantities of blood and blood products for the nation.
The collection of safe blood is made possible through the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Training partnership for safe blood, where students are encouraged to maintain a good health status at all times. In 2018, the students provided the largest percentage of donated blood at 92.3% (14,032), while adults donated about 7.68% (1,171 units). Hence, sufficient quantities of blood were available for those citizens who required a transfusion due to accidents or other medical reasons. The Eswatini National Blood Transfusion Services (ENBTS) programme manager, Ms Gugu Maphalala explained that strong support and commitment to safe blood donation strategy have led to the improved collections of other blood products such as platelets and paediatric blood unit to benefit children. The programme manager reiterated the message of staying safe to the students who attended the event.
Early this year, the ENBTS engaged Career Guidance Teachers and Schools Principals from across the four regions of the country with the sole purpose of strengthening partnership and cooperation during their blood collection sessions from the pupils. This move was welcomed with enthusiasm by the Principals who explained that blood collection sessions were already scheduled in the school calendar.
The Ministry of Health on the other hand pledged its commitment and continued support for the ENBTS, equipping it with state of the art latest technology. The Minister of Health who was represented by the Director of Health Services Dr Vusi Magagula said these innovative systems ensure that the risk of transmission of diseases through blood transfusion is significantly reduced and rendered safe for transfusion. "The Ministry of Health duly recognises the effort of the National Blood Transfusion Services for the regular blood supply all year round, despite the limited resources and I wish to assure you that the Ministry will ensure that this department has the required personnel and logistics to ensure efficiency in service delivery," the Minister said.
Speaking during the event, the WHO Country Representative Dr Cornelia Atsyor who was represented by the Health Promotion Officer Dr Kevin Makadzange stated that blood transfusion plays an essential role in the provision of health care, particularly among the vulnerable people such as women suffering from excessive bleeding during or after childbirth, children suffering from severe anaemia due to malaria and malnutrition as well as victims of trauma and accidents. Dr Atsyor said that donating blood is a selfless, noble gesture that gives back life and hope to patients. "Every blood donation is a gift of life. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to voluntary blood donors for their regular blood donation and I wish to thank the national blood transfusion services for working tirelessly to make safe blood available in healthcare facilities throughout the country," she said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) in Eswatini could not be left out once again, as staff, for the third consecutive year donated blood. This activity took place on 13 June at the UN building in Mbabane and was led by the UN Cares in collaboration with WHO. Dr Cornelia Atsyor led the way as she was among the first to donate. Also present was UNAIDS Director , Mr Tim Rwabuhemba.