Monday June 15, 2020

Blood for transfusion is an essential component of the healthcare systems whose availability depends on altruism of donors and having a blood functional transfusion service.

Since the withdrawal of the major funder the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in September 2019 the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) has been highlighted for the frequent shortages and unmet demand for blood. This is mirrored by the constant requests by relatives and friends of patients posting requests for blood on social media platforms.

An efficient blood transfusion service mainly relies on availability of donors and the ability to conduct the blood collection, screening and dispatch in a timely manner. With the ongoing efforts by the Government of Kenya and the World Bank to revamp transfusion services there is hope that the system will be able to get back on its feet. As this is on-going, we the blood donors need to avail ourselves for blood donation so that the system can have ample reserves so that when blood is needed it is readily made available.

While KNBTS works on resolving the on-going challenges there is need for adoption of sustainable mechanisms of funding so as to avoid a repeat of this situation. Key to the donors is having a system that is accountable so that donors can be re-assured of the proper use of the blood they have donated.

As we celebrate World Blood Donor Day this year, we would like to;
1. Thank all donors that have donated this valuable resource over the years.
2. Encourage other potential blood donors (age 16-65years and weighing >50kgs, living a safe sexual lifestyle) to register themselves as blood donors at any of the regional or satellite blood collection centers
3. Thank staff at KNBTS and transfusing facilities for supporting blood donors and patients.

Give blood and make the world a healthier place!

This article as written by Dr. Sophie Uyoga from KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme to commemorate World Blood Donor Day 2020.