THE Lesotho Network of AIDS Services Organisations (LENASO) has appealed to the government to allocate some funds aimed at supporting programmes that will raise awareness on the importance of donating blood.
This emerged during the LENASO second annual blood donation drive held in collaboration with the Lesotho Blood Bank at Khotsong Lodge earlier this week.
Established in 1991, LENASO represents a network of Community Based Organizations and support groups implementing HIV and AIDS services in the communities. Shortages of blood also affects people living with HIV, hence the need for awareness raising to ensure new regular donors are registered in the blood bank database.
In an interview with Lesotho Times LENASO Human Resources and Procurement Manager, Thato Lekoekoe said an allocation of funds for awareness raising can help increase the number of blood donors in the country.
He explained funds facilitated by the government, through the national budget can help boost awareness and contribute to saving lives.
“We hope that in the national budget there can be some funds allocated for the implementation of blood donation awareness throughout the country, to help communities to understand that there is a high demand for blood and related products,” Mr Lekoekoe said.
He explained the need for consistent awareness raising and not for actors to wait until the blood bank has been depleted before they can hold awareness campaigns, particularly during school holidays.
The blood bank also receives blood from students in various schools and tertiary institutions around the country and as a result, during holidays supplies are affected. “We would like blood to be readily available throughout the year and ensuring that the situation normalises is everyone’s responsibility.”
He said rigorous and consistent awareness programmes can help to deal with the myths and fears associated with donating blood.
“Some people are not comfortable to donate their blood because they received information from an uninformed source who told them that the process is painful and that it will affect their health. This is not true because a health assessment is done to check if a person is fit to donate blood before they can donate,” Mr Lekoekoe said.
Also explaining the importance of donating blood, Theliso Makoa who is the Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Manager at LENASO said the unavailability of blood in some medical centres was a worrying situation.
“Each week lives are unnecessarily lost because there could not get blood when they needed it most. Education is key to ensure we have sufficient blood in the national blood bank at all times,” Mr Makoa said.
He urged parents, guardians and communities to share knowledge on the life-saving benefits of donating blood.
“We aim to help create community-based platforms that will facilitate education on issues such as how blood donations can help reduce maternal mortality. There is a lot of education also needed to help people understand the processes that make blood transfusion safe.”
The LENASO Programme Manager, Lucy Tsehloane emphasised the importance of creating support within local communities to facilitate exchange of ideas and knowledge dissemination.
“As partners with the local communities, raising awareness is part of our corporate social responsibility. We are leading by example and today, 80 percent of the LENASO staff will be donating blood. This act will help to demonstrate that donating blood is harmless and that it is an act of giving life to those who will need it in the event of, for example, car accidents and to help people who suffer from some conditions requiring the assistance of blood transfusion,” Ms Tsehloane said.