The Zambia National Blood Transfusion Service says Zambia currently has an estimated shortfall of 26, 000 units of blood.
Nation Blood Transfusion Service Executive Director Gabriel Muyinda disclosed that in 2013,the country only managed to collect 114, 000 units of blood, against the national blood needs for Zambia currently estimated at 140, 000 units of blood per annum.
Dr Muyinda said this left a gap of 26, 000 units of blood or 18 percent of the national blood needs.
He said during a media breakfast meeting at Raddison Blue Hotel in Lusaka today that there is need to solicit for more blood donations to meet the national demand.
He urged members of the public to consider becoming volunteer blood donors in order to save lives.
Dr Muyinda stressed that blood donation is a safe procedure, painless and does not take long, adding that a person aged between 16 to 65 is eligible to donate blood.
He further appealed to the media to take a proactive role in sensitising the public on the importance of blood donation in order to promote the culture of voluntarism towards blood donation in the country.
Dr Muyinda said government is fully aware of the strategic importance of blood transfusion in health service delivery and it is for this reason that the country adopted a comprehensive blood safety strategy based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) policy and strategy founded on voluntary blood donations.
Dr Muyinda said the national policy is to ensure that the country has equitable and affordable access to adequate, quality and safe blood and blood products throughout the country.
Speaking at the same occasion, Blood Transfusion Services Medical Director Joseph Mulenga disclosed that 10 percent of the blood collected every year is discarded owing to having communicable infections such as HIV and Hepatitis.
Dr Mulenga said HIV accounts for three percent of the discarded blood.
He said the service is however working towards reducing the percentage of the blood it discards every year to zero percentage, adding that this target is achievable.