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Lack of blood blamed for maternal and infant mortality in Turkana

County executive committee member for health Jane Ajele (second left) flanked by Manchester United football club fans in Lodwar during the blood transfusion exercise at Lodwar county referral hospital by Peter Gitonga

Health experts in Turkana County have blamed shortage of blood in the county health facilities for maternal and infant mortality rate in the county.
Speaking during a blood donation exercise organised by the Manchester United football club fans, Turkana branch chapter, county director of medical services Gilchrist Lokoel said the county collects a paltry 400 pints of blood per month against the required 1,000 pints.
“Out of all the blood transfused two-thirds is used to women who deliver in hospitals and children who contract chronic infections,” said Lokoel.
He added that out of seven patients who visit health facilities one is in need of blood.
County executive committee member for health Jane Ajele said despite blood transfusion being a national government function the county government has allocated Sh5 million for blood donation services at the transfusion centres and an additional Sh20 million for laboratory services in the current financial year.
Ajele said the county has set up 10 blood transfusing sites which mainly rely on students for blood.
Lokoel said the nation needs one million pints monthly but is currently collecting 170,000 pints.
According to the Lodwar county referral hospital director Dr Ekitela Namoru, it takes two weeks to send blood samples to Eldoret for screening and testing before it is transported back to the county increasing time taken before patients can receive blood.
He also blamed lack of reagents for testing even in Eldoret for delays in patients getting blood in Turkana County.
“Half of the blood that is transfused at Lodwar county referral hospital is also donated to other nine health facilities in the county,” said Dr Namoru.
Every pint of blood saves three lives, he said.
Chief Officer for health Dr Roberts Abok called for policy change to allow other areas to screen and give blood.
Abok said the decision by the USA government to terminate funding for blood transfusion services has further affected the blood transfusion services.
Speaker of the county assembly Erastus Lokaale hailed the Manchester United football club fans Turkana county chapter for the initiative and appealed to other residents to donate blood.
“For every one person who donates blood we save three lives, you can imagine how many lives the Manchester United football club fans have saved,” said Lokaale.
By Peter Gitonga

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