Addressing Malawi Blood Challenge: A Case of Village Blood Collection in Balaka and Mchinji

Presenter: Charles Makwenda, Parent and Child Health Initiative

Background:  Maternal mortality remains high in Malawi (510 per 100 000 live births), with hemorrhage as the leading cause. Thus, blood availability is critical in ensuring survival of mothers. Malawi faces 31.3% unmet blood need, nevertheless, rural populations have been neglected in blood donation campaigns. We propose a model for engaging rural populations in blood donations.

Methodology: Data on maternal deaths due to hemorrhage and on blood supply and demand is collected, analyzed and packaged into factsheets in local languages.  The evidence is shared with rural communities to raise awareness of blood shortage. Local leaders and communities are inspired to form village blood committees to lead blood donation mobilization. Blood committees facilitate continuous blood donation sensitizations using locally availably mobilization strategies such as traditional dances.  The committees with support from ministry of health organizes blood donation week. Blood donors are grouped to form village blood donor associations.

Results:  Blood collections were twice conducted in 19 villages in Mchinji (7) and Balaka (14) districts. In Mchinji, 71 and 284 pints of blood were collected during the first and second exercise respectively, representing 300% increase. In Balaka, 85 and 219 pints of blood were collected during the first and second exercise respectively, representing 157.6% increase. In Mchinji, unmet blood need was reduced by 35% and to 0 during the first and second campaign periods respectively whereas in Balaka, unmet blood need was reduced by 7% and 23% during the first and second campaign periods respectively.  Besides, Myths and fears associated with blood donations are steadily dying in the targeted villages.

Conclusion:   Evidence driven advocacy on blood within rural communities promotes strong participation in blood donations, suggesting that village blood collection model has potential of addressing blood shortage in Malawi.