MoH launches blood donation drive amid concerns over shortage

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Compared to a globally recommended daily average of 1 million blood units, the country faces an acute shortage, a situation the Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki says requires concerted efforts to address. Photo/Courtesy

Every ten minutes, there are at least seven Kenyans in need of blood to save their lives against an available supply of 170,000 blood units per day.

Compared to a globally recommended daily average of 1 million blood units, the country faces an acute shortage, a situation the Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki says requires concerted efforts to address.

Speaking during the launch of a weeklong blood donation drive at the National Archives in Nairobi on Wednesday, the CS noted that the country is yet to reach the 1-million-unit global requirement needed at any given time.

She attributed the shortage of blood to the culture of donating blood, pointing out that the ministry has in collaboration with the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS), mapped out a strategy partnering with counties in a more direct and purposeful way.

They include; increased blood donation satellite centres from the current 26 to 40 within this financial year, have monthly drives on blood donation in conjunction with county governments which she hopes will help bridge the gap, a Bill that is in draft form that will guide the process of blood transfusion and safety, and the introduction a Bill that will look into organ transplantation which is envisaged in the Health Act 2017.

The Ministry of Health further called on Kenyans to turn up in numbers and donate blood, in the weeklong blood donation drive that kicked off on Monday, September 9 and ends on Friday, September 13 at the National Archives.

The CS also recognized the world leading blood donor, Arjun Prasad Mainali from Nepal, who stated that the blood drive will mitigate the mortality rate of pregnant women.

Arjun who resides in New York, Unites States, is said to have donated over 91 times in his lifetime.

“I call out on Kenyans to make it their mission to donate blood as often as they can. What drove me to come to Kenya and take part in the blood drive is the knowledge that many women lose their lives while in the process of delivering.”

Arjun (pictured) who resides in New York, Unites States, is said to have donated over 91 times in his lifetime.Photo/Courtesy

“We also have cancer cases where the patients too are in dire need of blood, just to mention a few on health complications that need adequate supply of blood,” he said.

According to KNBTS, 60 per cent of the donated blood is used up by mothers and their children for birth-related needs before or after childbirth including cesarean sections, which now account for half the births in both private and public hospitals.

World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that national blood banks should collect a unit of blood from at least one per cent of the population every year to be considered blood-sufficient.

Kenya should collect about 500,000 units of blood per year, with current population estimated at 50 million.