Comparison of blood services and clinical transfusion practices in Zimbabwe and the Netherlands: What are the key lessons?

  • T Mapako
  • MP Janssen
  • P Van Den Burg
  • M Smid
  • DA Mvere
  • JC Emmanuel
  • MJ Postma
  • S Rusakaniko
  • HB Groningen
  • M Van Hulst


Tracking blood safety status of member states by World Health Organisation is now a routine activity through Global Database for Blood Safety. To understand further the differences between high income and low-income countries a detailed review may be warranted. In this review, the blood services of Netherlands and Zimbabwe were compared.

A study visit to Netherlands was undertaken and the key findings from this visit were compared with equivalent data from Zimbabwe. Key thematic points were summarised from the review of the reports as well as the outcomes from key observations and informant discussions. Lessons learnt and recommendations were drawn for each thematic area considered.

Key Findings
The difference in geographical land sizes (Zimbabwe 10 times larger) and population demographics (Zimbabwe predominately youths) poses different challenges to Netherlands and Zimbabwe. The organisation and management structures of the Services are similar and both rely on 100% voluntary non-remunerated blood donors. Despite the high transfusion transmission infections (TTI) rates in the general population in Zimbabwe the testing technology is low as compared to Netherlands. However, Zimbabwe through other strategies has managed to maintain low TTI prevalence in donated blood. There are comparable efforts in blood process, testing and distribution activities. The support services such as haemovigilance, research and development activities are greatly comparable though the outputs magnitude will differ depending of the level of investment.

Our findings seems to suggest that despite the differing income status of countries, given the proper strategies blood services in low resources settings can make comparable achievements


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 1560-8646