State appeals for blood as shortage hit hospitals

The Ministry of Health has appealed to Kenyans to donate blood amid an acute shortage of the life-saving commodity in various hospitals across the country.

Speaking under the auspices of the World Blood Donor Day celebrations held at the University of Nairobi yesterday, acting director of medical services Jackson Kioko said that the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Services (KNBTS) failed to achieve its blood collection target last year.

“Last year the KNBTS collected a total of 155,000 units of blood representing 39% of our national blood requirement which stands at 400,000 units,” Dr Kioko said.

The missed target means the country now faces a deficit of 245,000 units of blood which could affect normal operations in the health sector.

Dr Kioko warned that drastic measures need to be put in place to plug the deficit even as he maintained that the Health Ministry is taking steps to address the issue.

“To meet the deficit we have adopted various strategies including targeting the adult blood donors and scaling up donor education and communication,” he said.

He noted that the demand for blood and blood products have increased sharply over the last couple of years because of natural calamities, terrorist attacks and road traffic injuries among other causes.

About 60 percent of blood in Kenya is transfused to women and children suffering from severe anemia and sickle cell diseases among other illnesses.

KNBTS Director Margaret Oduor noted that 80 percent of blood donors in Kenya are between the ages of 16 and 25 years with the bulk of the donors (60 percent) mainly teenagers from high schools.

She said that the blood agency’s main focus area is increasing donation from the adult demographic of Kenya’s population.

“We are working on embracing the adult population to become blood donors as they have lagged behind in blood donation among all strata of the population,” Dr Oduor said.

Kioko meanwhile decried that funding from Western donors had reduced gradually over the years putting a strain on the ministry’s budget.

The US Government has been the greatest supporter of the Ministry of Health and KNBTS through PEPFAR, an initiative to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. The program has pumped Sh60 billion to support blood transfusion in the country since its inception in 2004.

 

 

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