The public lecture, the third of its kind, was held at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) under the theme “Give Blood, Give Now, Give Often”. It was hosted by the Blood Transfusion Service of Namibia (NAMBTS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Namibia.
The blood donation public lectures are aimed towards educating the public on the different facets of the blood transfusion services in Namibia, with particular emphasis on the shortage of consistent blood donors in the country, as this leads to a shortage in supply.
To highlight the extent of this issue, the audience learned about cases of blood transfusion in Namibia. Motor vehicle accident victims, mothers after giving birth, trauma victims, victims with head injuries and/or gunshot wounds, patients with cancer, malaria, TB and/or anemia and individuals undergoing surgery, are some of the individuals who receive blood donations in Namibia.
Speaking at the lecture, Dr. Britta Lohrke of the MoHSS, stressed the importance of creating a culture where people are committed to working with the NAMBTS to ensure that there are sufficient amounts of blood in the blood banks to supply every hospital nationwide. Blood donations from 21 blood banks are distributed by the MoHSS in partnership with NamPost to 50 hospital centers across the country. Teamwork between institutions as well as with donors is key in delivering lifesaving blood to those who need it.
Dr. Desta Tiruneh of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that over 112 million blood donations are collected globally, but mostly in high income countries. As only 1% of the Namibian population are blood donors, Dr. Tiruneh encouraged the youth to become blood donors, as there is a serious need for blood. Dr. Tiruneh requested that the youth also engage with their entire community and encourage their friends and family who are able to donate blood, to donate.
Providing safe and adequate blood through donation also contributes to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an action plan of people, planet and prosperity aimed at reducing poverty, promoting peace and protecting the environment. Blood transfusions save lives and improve health, directly contributing to Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ‘Good Health and Well-being’. For this reason, the UNIC Windhoek team set up SDG banners in the lecture hall to raise awareness of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as to spark conversation about the colorful set of goals.
In an effort to make the lecture more relatable, testimonials were given by both blood donors and recipients. Rev. Johan Serfontein, a regular blood donor who has donated over 200 times, said to the crowd, “To donate blood is to save a life”.
Lonia Napunda, who received blood after the birth of her second child, reminded the crowd that they never know when they or a loved one will need blood and thus should donate, “Today or tomorrow, it might be your sister, might be your father, might be your friend, might be your colleague even yourself who might need blood.”
After learning more about blood donation, the participants, including NUST biomedical students, put their knowledge to the test and had to describe words and phrases regarding blood transfusion to each other in 30 seconds or less.
The UNIC Windhoek team learned that the blood donor population is essential to ensure that people are able to receive blood when they need it so that they can live with good health.