In a week when Zambia’s biggest referral hospital – UTH – is still grappling with the short supply of oxygen, another critical shortage – blood – has beset the institution with officials turning away patients needing surgical operations.
The shortage of blood has partly been attributed to the poor quality donated by people living with HIV and the absence of blood donors from the age group of 17 to 25, who have returned to schools.
UTH urologist Dr Francis Manda has confirmed the blood shortage saying most blood donors are found to be HIV positive causing a low supply with only below 250 units available.
Dr Manda said most of the blood is contaminated with HIV and other diseases making it unusable.
“Before, we used to get very good blood from children going to secondary schools. Now, apart from prisons where there are elements of malnutrition, there is high incident of HIV,” he said.
He said most medical cases requiring operations have been put on hold because of the low blood supply.
Dr Manda said there is need for a sensitization programme that will attach incentives to blood donors.
Meanwhile, UTH managing director Dr Lackson Kasonka said the blood is on a lower side because traditional donors between 17 and 25 are mostly in schools and colleges.
Dr Kasonka is however optimistic that they will collect more blood and the situation will stabilize.