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Blood Bank running low due to Covid-19 pandemic

Covid 19 pandemic has impacted heavily on blood donation efforts within Machakos County, local Kenya National Blood Transfusion Services (KNBS) Director Mr Francis Mwaka has revealed.

Mwaka says due to the prevailing pandemic, the amount of blood being donated at the Machakos Satellite center has gone down by 5,000 pints per year compared to 15,000 in previous years.

The officer who was speaking at the Syokimau stage during a blood donation drive, urged Kenyans to come out in large numbers to give blood and boost reserves to help in the event of emergencies.

He also challenged Boda boda riders to be at the forefront in visiting blood collection centres noting that the majority of casualties being admitted in hospitals in need of transfusion are Boda boda riders.

“Machakos County with an estimated population of 1.5 million people used to collect 15,000 pints of blood every year. However, with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the numbers have currently shrunk to between 9,000 and 10,000 pints of blood annually. This means we are currently operating below capacity with at least 5,000 pints which is a big margin,” he said.

In a bid to bridge the gap, Mwaka said the agency has now been forced to turn to learning institutions such as schools and tertiary centers to ensure the blood bank remains replenished although the move has also run into headwinds due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Similarly, the fear of knowing one’s HIV status has also led many to keep up the exercise altogether.

“Despite the entry of Covid-19 in the country many patients are still in need of blood especially those suffering from non-communicable diseases such as cancer. This has now compelled us to resort to visiting schools and colleges for blood collection drives though many of the students are reluctant to donate the blood for personal reasons. We are trying to encourage them to come out and participate in the exercise as one way of saving those in dire need of medical attention,” he explained.

Mavoko MP, Patrick Makau who was present during the exercise lauded the Boda boda riders for responding to the call to donate blood at the mobile centre and said the decision to do so would greatly encourage others to follow suit.

He further advised both the area residents and the Boda boda operators to continue observing Covid-19 protocols warning that the disease is still potent wiping out peoples’ entire livelihoods besides claiming the lives of many Kenyans.

“Today is an important day as we come together to donate blood to help address the current shortage being witnessed at our Machakos Blood bank. I am therefore grateful for everyone who has come to support this noble cause,” he pointed out.

He described the current shortage as a wakeup call for the riders to be at the frontline in donating blood to help have ample reserves to take care of those in need.

“Any time one of us gets involved in an accident and visits a hospital, one is often told there is no blood. It is therefore crucial for us to urge our colleagues to join in this important drive as one way of dealing with this challenge at an individual level,” he said.

According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), Kenya has a capacity of collecting close to 1 million units of blood way above the 16 per cent that was collected last year.

Recently Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Dr. Rashid Aman disclosed that the country’s blood situation is challenging and hence the need for restocking.

By Samuel Maina and Ann Kangero

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