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Zimbabwe Experiencing Severe Blood Shortage - 2003-05-29

Zimbabwe's blood transfusion service normally uses its advertisements to appeal for blood donors. But the service has begun using the ads to warn people that the country's political and economic crisis has led to severe shortages of blood and blood components to hospitals.

Zimbabwe's National Blood Transfusion Service says that the country needs a minimum of 3,500 units of blood in its national bank at any given time. Currently the supply is down to 700 units, the lowest it has ever been.

The service says its activities have been severely compromised by the many problems facing Zimbabwe. In its current advertisements, it says the country's fuel shortage is hindering blood collections. A spokesperson for the service says the eight mobile units that collect blood from around the country are all grounded because of the shortage.

The spokesperson, who asked not to be named, says the fuel shortages have also affected the collections of blood from schoolchildren, who normally donate most of the blood to the bank.

Because of the severe foreign currency shortage the country is experiencing, the blood transfusion service is unable to import blood derivatives for people that need regular transfusions, such as hemophiliacs.