New blood donor organization asked Rotary for help

 

Zanzibar Stone Town Rotary Club, District 9200, has taken up a challenge from the French national Rotary campaign My Blood for Others and is planning its first blood drive - helping to recruit new donors for the Zanzibar Blood Voluntary Donor Association (ZABVODA) and the local blood bank. Already, the French campaign (Mon Sang pour les Autres) has spread to the French speaking part of West Africa.

 

"With regard to Africa it is obvious," says RC Stone Town president, Gail Arnesen, "that more information and education about voluntary blood donation is needed." Therefore, specially designed information material will be included in the club's blood drive. "It is not only the usual concern about HIV and AIDS. People here are also scared of finding out if they already have contracted the virus, and that in particular may be difficult to understand for Westerners," Gail Arnesen says. Now the club is looking for funds to sponsor the blood donor project.

 

After a decline in available blood donors because of the HIV/AIDS fear, several hundred voluntary blood donors have been registered since 2007, when a new blood bank opened in the area of Sebleni, and another several hundred have been added after the founding of Zanzibar Blood Voluntary Donor Association in January 2008, according to Bakari Hamad Magarawa, ZABVODA's Secretary General and founder. He himself is an employee of the Zanzibar Blood Bank as an assistant donor organizer and asked GNBD and Rotary for a helping hand. The French Rotary blood donation campaign, My blood for others, under the chairmanship of PDG Jean-Claude Brocart is the GNBD's consultative representative regarding the Zanzibar Stone Town RC blood donor project.  

 

Bakari Magarawa's ambition is to model his blood donor organization upon European norms, including establishing local donor chapters throughout the islands that constitute Zanzibar. He also hopes to be able one day to acquire a motor vehicle for his blood donor organization to facilitate the transportation of the voluntary blood donors to the blood bank when needed.

 

"The health problems for Zanzibar are the same as for all Sub-Saharan countries, that is Malaria among children under the age of five and pregnant women, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis etc. All these diseases cause anaemia, and if necessary measures are not taken, unnecessary fatalities will be the result," Bakari Magarawa points out. In Tanzania, of which Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part, the major recipients of blood and blood products are children (50%) and pregnant women (30%), according to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (2005 figures). Zanzibar has an estimated population of just over one million people.

 

Zanzibar has received financial help from the American  President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for Sub-Saharan Africa, which has made a noticeable difference. According to Mwanakheir Mahmoud, MD, program manager of the Zanzibar National Blood Transfusion Services within the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, quoted by the organization AABB, "There is more awareness among the staff and community on the importance of blood screening, voluntary donations and safe blood. The staff is motivated and we have great working facilities."

Zanzibar covers 1650 square kilometres and consists of the two main islands Unguja and Pemba along with 52 smaller islands and islets. It is situated about 40 kilometres off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean. Stone Town or Mji Mkongwe, in Swahili meaning "ancient town", is the old part of Zanzibar Town (or Unguja Mjini), the capital of Zanzibar. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has designated Stone Town as a World Heritage Site.

Stone Town Rotary Club was chartered in November of 2005 with Gail Arnesen as its first president. Zanzibar's president Amani Abeid Karume,  then just re-elected for a second term in office, was the guest of honor at the event that also saw a number of government ministers, diplomats and Rotarians from mainland Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.

 

Bakari Magarawa, Secretary General of the Zanzibar blood donor organization, first contacted Global Network for Blood Donation, a Rotarian Action Group, in June 2008 asking Rotary for organizatorial assistance.

 

Footnote: Go to the journal Photos to see pictures from the blood bank. 

 

Send your comment to: editor@ourblooddrive.org

 

CONTACT:

 

Gail Arnesen, President of StoneTown Rotary Club (2008/09):

Tel:  255 24 2239114, mobile: 255 777 437200

E-mail: gailmatemwe@zanlink.com

 

Bakari Hamad Magarawa, Secretary General of

Zanzibar Blood Voluntary Donor Association ยด

Office: mobile +255777433883

E-mail: magarawa@hotmail.com , juwadhiz@yahoo.com