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Calls to Boost Turkana Blood Bank

The Ministry of health in Turkana County has appealed to members of the public to donate blood in a bid to save lives during emergencies.

Senior health officials led by the county chief officer in charge of health Dr Malcom Lochodo and director of medical services Dr Gilchrist Lokoel urged members of the public to turn up in large numbers and donate blood as the world commemorates The World Blood Donor Day on June 14.

Dr Lokoel said the World blood donor day was set aside to honour, recognize and appreciate people who have been donating blood routinely and consistently.

‘The Day also aims to convince other people to donate blood. Statistics indicate that 70 percent of 116,000 pints of blood donated last year was donated by new donors, he added.

The theme of this year’s event is donate blood and keep the world beating.

Lokoel said for every 10 minutes, seven Kenyans need blood and every pint of blood has a potential of saving three lives.

In Turkana County, a blood donation exercise will take place at Lodwar county referral hospital on June 14. Various stakeholders among them football team supporters like Manchester United and Arsenal are scheduled to donate blood.

Nationally, one million pints of blood is needed annually against a donation of 116,000 made last year.

In Turkana county Dr Lokoel says the county has an 80 percent blood deficit every month.

Chief Officer, Lochodo said the county is targeting to have blood reservoirs that can last the county for 5-6 months.

Lochodo noted that past blood donation that have happened during emergencies raise about 150 pints of blood which is never enough.

He said the county is normally strained for blood because it serves other patients from neighbouring countries like South Sudan and Ethiopia. Patients in need of emergencies attend Lopiding hospital near the border of Kenya and South Sudan.

Shortage of blood has forced the medical personnel to resort to emergency calls for blood donations from time to time.

Lack of blood has in the past been blamed for some of the deaths reported in the county.

Kenya collects about 17 percent of all blood it needs annually.

Turkana is worst hit given its location and prevalence of high predisposing factors, said Lochodo.

Gilchirst Lokoel said the county has decided to treat blood donation as a continuous exercise.

In Turkana county, the event will be graced by one Ms Asha Dafalla who has donated blood 69 times so far making her the highest donor in East and central Africa.

By donating blood, you will be proving that you need not to be a doctor to save lives, said Lokoel.

Only people aged 16 years and above and weigh above 50 kgs are allowed to donate blood.

Among the reasons why few people turn up to donate blood is donor apathy and poor blood donation culture.

The construction of the A1 road that links the county to South Sudan has led to an increase in road accidents and increased demand for blood according to Lokoel.

In addition, conflicts over pasture and water due to drought have led to demand for more blood as well as the opening up of more maternity in health facilities where blood is required to save lives.

Lokoel says there is need to inculcate a sense of ownership in blood donation so that members of the public understand that blood donation is meant for their own benefit.

Other benefits of blood donation include an opportunity to know one’s blood group.

By Peter Gitonga

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