Saving Lives through Voluntary Blood Donation: Learning from Medical Students in Ruvuma, Southern Tanzania
Most developing countries like Tanzania are failing to meet the WHO target of 1% of the population to save lives by blood donations. Medical students present high merit potential blood donors due to their medical knowledge, physiological potential by age and a will to volunteer for change. The use of medical students for blood donations has rarely been described in southern Tanzania.
A cross-sectional study to assess awareness, knowledge, attitudes, willingness and factors associated with blood donation among medical students in Ruvuma, Southern Tanzania was conducted from March to June 2018. A simple random sampling was used to recruit students followed by a roll out of a self- administered questionnaire. Collected data was analyzed by IBM Corp, SPSS Version 24.0 using Chi squares test and independent t-test.
A total of 176 students were assessed at a mean age of 25.8 (± SD 3.6) years. Eighty medical students (45.5%) ever donated blood while among them 66 (82.5%) of those being out of volunteering. Repeated blood donors out of those who had ever donated were 46 (57.5%). Majority of the participants had a positive attitude toward blood donation 159 (90.3%) and 135 (77%) perceived voluntarily donated blood to be the best source of blood for transfusion. A large group of participants 133 (75.6%) were willing to donate in future blood donation events. Factors that were significantly associated with ever donating blood were age above 30 (OR=0.18, p<0.001), male sex (OR=3.69, p=0.001), past HIV screening (OR=2.59, p=0.029), knowledge of one’s blood group (OR=4.86, p<0.001,) and knowledge of the safe duration of time taken to donate a unit of blood (OR=2.42, p=0.024).
Medical students present a high awareness, positive attitude, and high intention group to donate blood. They are more willing to volunteer for blood donation which can achieve the WHO goal for non-remunerated blood donation.
Keywords: Saving Lives, Voluntary Blood Donations, Medical Students, Africa, Tanzania.