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‘High HIV infections render blood unusable’

Nthatuoa Koeshe

THE Ministry of Health has expressed concern at the high rate of HIV and other infections in the country which have rendered unusable a lot of the blood that is donated by adults aged 18 and above.

The Health ministry’s Principal Secretary, Monaphathi Maraka, recently told the Parliamentary Social Cluster Portfolio Committee that for every 100 packets of blood donated by adults, 88 had to be discarded because of HIV and hepatitis infections among others.

“We went to the Ministry of Education to explain to them that students were the only reservoir where we are able to draw clean blood because we were aware that when we draw blood from parents, most of the blood is infected with different viruses such as HIV and hepatitis,” Mr Makara said adding that in schools those viruses were minimal.

Mr Makara’s figures were immediately disputed by the Manager of Lesotho Blood Transfusion Services (LBTS), Maleqhoa Nyopa, who told this publication that at most only 7 percent of the blood donated by adults was contaminated.

“We do tests and consultations before drawing people’s blood and this gives us a chance to know if one is eligible to donate blood or not,” Ms Nyopa said.

She said only 3 percent of blood was infected with HIV and the other 4 percent by other viruses such as hepatitis.

Ms Nyopa however, said they still faced an acute shortage of blood mainly as a result of stringent Ministry of Education regulations that they only collect donations from learners that were aged 18 years and above.

She said learners in that age range were a minority in schools.

“Currently the blood bank has very little by way of blood reserves and this forces relatives to donate blood for their loved ones whenever blood is needed,” Ms Nyopa said.

She further pleaded with the public to donate blood in large numbers as there would be upsurge in demand for blood during the upcoming Easter holidays from 30 March to 2 April this year.

 

 

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