The government has embarked on a blood donation campaign as the country prepares for the World Blood Donor Day, to be commemorated on Sunday June 14, 2020
The situation of the country’s blood bank is challenging and a concern for Health Ministry who is on a campaign to restock the blood bank in the country.
Speaking today at KICC, Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Rashid Aman said Prior to the COVID-19 situation, the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS), used to collect about 450 pints of blood every day.
However, he added that with the onset of COVID-19 in the country, the situation has changed, and the figures have dropped between 70 and 80 percent .
He explained that in a population like Kenya which is around 50 million people WHO recommends for the level of blood we should be stocking to be a minimum of 1 percent of our population which is around 500,000 tonnes of blood a year or 1370 pints per day to have sufficient stocks to lack for year
However Dr. Rashid said the country has had challenges with blood collection and has been recording and collecting about 164,000 pints a year over the last couple a year which is 450 pints a day which is far short of minimum that we should be doing thus the need to work towards changing that
“KNBTS is currently collecting about 250 pints of blood, which has caused a major strain on our blood bank. Therefore, the launch of this blood donation campaign could not have come at a better time”, Dr. Rashid said.
He noted that as a ministry they are working on improving service delivery in this sector and in recognizing the need for additional human capacity, the Ministry has posted an additional 22 members of staff, to the KNBTS.
Other additional resources is that we will be pumping Ksh1 billion shilling through World Bank programme in the coming months to upgrade and improve level services and blood collection within our satellites throughout the country”, he said
This he added will ensure there is enough commodity for blood donation and right equipment and reagents required in the lab to ensure the blood collected is well handled and safe.
As part of an effort to appeal to all people to volunteer and donate blood, the CAS said that the government leveraged ICT and collaborated with Facebook and Damu Sasa Systems, who have used their platforms to mobilize blood donors for the next two days.
“As of this morning, 12,779 individuals had set reminders on their Facebook accounts for people to come out and donate blood countrywide. There are also 33 other centres countrywide, where the same exercise is being carried out”, he said .
Additionally, Dr. Rashid noted that there are 1,522 people, who have called the various centres to book an appointment for blood donation but appealed to those enquiring making pledges, and other well-wishers to come forward and participate in this very important activity.
Dr. Rashid acknowledged that there has been some level of corruption in the blood services and these are issues that the ministry is handing through processes, investigations being undertaken and as a ministry we are moving forward in a programme of reform on the KNBTS and will be widespread looking at legal structures and governance and leadership issues./
Dr. Rashid thanked partners and sponsors who have extended a hand of support to us in this venture namely the KICC Management, Standard Group, Damu Sasa systems, UNFPA, AMREF, Farm Access, KNH and Coca Cola who have played a major part in organizing this drive.
By Wangari Ndirangu