In a distress call made on micro-blogging site Twitter, NBSZ said its blood bank had been severely depleted following the violence of August 1 — which broke out a day after Zimbabwe had just concluded its historic national elections to choose a new president, Parliament and local authority representatives.
“Following the political disturbances of last week, blood bank stock levels were negatively affected. We call upon on all those who are healthy to visit our clinics to donate blood.
“Those who are due for their next donation please visit any of our clinics near you before you break or travel for the Heroes’ Holidays,” it said.
Health minister David Parirenyatwa also told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that the government was working around the clock to ensure that there were adequate stocks of blood in the country.
“I am aware there is a gap and we are urging NBSZ to do what they can to mobilise the community to help and donate blood. It is also incumbent upon everyone to do the same,” he said.
The historic July 30 elections were the first since 1980 to be held in the country without former president Robert Mugabe’s participation — whose 37-year iron-fisted rule was stunningly ended by a military operation which triggered events that ended with his resignation in November last year.
The elections also marked the first time that the main opposition MDC was not represented by its founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who lost his brave battle with cancer of the colon on Valentine’s Day this year.
But the peaceful campaigns and a camaraderie spirit that had characterised the run-up to the elections were sullied in the aftermath of the elections when deadly violence broke out in Harare’s central business district (CBD), following a clash between opposition supporters and security agents.
At least six people subsequently died when the army, which had apparently been called in to assist in managing the situation, used live ammunition to break the ugly protests.
Health experts said yesterday that the depleted blood stocks had left pregnant women and the vulnerable at risk, as the demand was outstripping supply.
On July 1 this year, the government scrapped user fees to enable vulnerable and disadvantaged groups to access blood.
But the permanent secretary for the ministry of Health, Gerald Gwinji, told the Daily News on Sunday, that the current depleted blood levels should not be seen as a crisis.
“There are times when blood collections and reserves are depleted and extra campaigns have to be taken in that event. While we are under increased demand at the moment, we have not run out of blood.
“The strategic response form NBSZ has been to mount a campaign and increase the target of blood collections,” he said. Daily News.