KENYA – The Ministry of Health, through the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service has embarked on strengthening blood accountability mechanism, an approach that will ensure regular blood stock taking, maintenance of the national blood inventory management system and electronic tracking of donated blood.
Speaking in Nairobi when she officiated the World Blood Donor Day, Health Principal Secretary, Susan Mochache, noted that the safety of blood being offered to Kenya is very important and informed that the Ministry has issued a circular on hemovigilance to ensure safety of blood.
“We urge all transfusing facilities to comply with this circular to ensure that no contamination of blood occurs from the time a donor gives their blood.” She emphasized.
The PS urged Kenyans who are able to donate blood to do so noting that COVID-19 has had an adverse impact on blood services and that blood needs in the country have increased due to road accidents, increased incidences of cancers and other conditions that require surgery.
“We must all stand up and be counted to in the spirit of this year’s theme of ‘Give blood and keep the world beating’ as blood transfusion is a life-saving treatment with no medical alternative.” She urged.
She also revealed that the Ministry has embarked on expansion of blood collection centers countrywide and thanked the Council of Governors for partnering with the Blood Service.
The PS also said that the Ministry of Health has developed policies, guidelines and circulars aimed at ensuring that the blood service reforms are realized.
“The Ministry continues to review these guidelines in line with international blood safety and standards to provide a framework for enhanced safety, efficacy and efficiency of blood services.” She assured.
Ms Mochache appreciated partners who have continued to support blood services in the country including The World Bank, the Kenyatta National Hospital, Life Bank, AMREF, Redcross, LVCT Health, St. John Ambulance, Damusasa, and Kenyans who donate blood regularly.
Last year, the Ministry of Health launched a national blood donation campaign ahead of the World Blood Donor Day.
The campaign was launched by the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Dr. Rashid Aman, who disclosed that the country’s blood situation is challenging and hence the need to restock.
He disclosed that the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS), used to collect about 450 pints of blood every day. However, with the onset of COVID-19 in the country, the situation changed, and the figures dropped by between 70 and 80 percent.
“KNBTS is now 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,” he said.
Blood shortages are a critical issue in Kenya. In 2019, the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service collected only 16% of the 1 million units the country needed.
Global health experts believe that one of the reasons behind this shortage is the absence of a culture of donating blood in the country; another is funding gaps.
Based on World Health Organization guidelines for the proportion of donors relative to total population, Kenya should be collecting as much as one million units of blood a year.
Kenya’s population is 47 million, so even if just 1% donated blood, the country would have at least 470,000 units.