Health authorities asked to summon MBTS over blood supply shortages

By: Dyson Kamwana

The Center for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has given a 7-day ultimatum to the Parliamentary Committee on Health to summon the Malawi Blood Transfusion Service (MBTS) to clarify issues surrounding the reported shortage of blood in the country’s health facilities.

Through its Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa, CDEDI claims investigation by the organization in several health facilities, reveals that MBTS makes available 100 units of blood per day, against a demand of 500 units of blood.

Naniwa said the country is experiencing acute shortage of blood supply, a development he said has led to loss of many lives and prompted the suspension of surgery in the public health facilities.

“They should summon the MBTS management to share its plans in revamping the blood collection exercise to meet Malawi’s needs as well as to justify the perennial blood shortages in Malawi,” Namiwa said.

He further added that the committee should invoke its Constitutional powers and oversight role to call for a blood collection, distribution and accessibility audit in all public institutions in the country in line with the Public Finance Management Act, and audited reports should be submitted to the Auditor General (AG).

He said,” there is a need to launch an independent investigation to ascertain the failure to collect blood as required and also to devise a mechanism to make blood accessible in hospitals to enable all patients to get it when needed.

While acknowledging receipt of the letter, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Dr. Matthews Ngwale was quick to mention that the health committee does not work based on ultimatum, as it requires time to conduct its independent investigation.

“We have received the letter from CDEDI, and we will have to engage other stakeholders on the matter before instituting an investigation, however, this cannot be done within the given 7-day period,” Ngwale said.

Ngwale added that this should be a wakeup call to other stakeholders who would like to write letters of commands to the committee that according to the committee’s mandates, it does not rush to make decisions on the raised concerns.

“The committee always receives complaints which requires us to conduct the investigation because it may happen that what these people are raising is different from what is on the ground. This also requires time and financial resources, hence no need to work based on the ultimatums,” Ngwale said.

Previously, the Malawi Blood Transfusion Service (MBTS) has been complaining of the tendency by the general public of shunning to donate blood, a situation which soared the cry of blood shortages in the country’s health facilities.

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