Did you know three teaspoons of your blood is enough to save the life of a premature baby? This Valentine’s day, #ShowYourLove by donating blood and getting a chance to save lives!
Kenya is currently grappling with a 251,000 bag shortage of blood that can be used for transfusion. This is after the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) collected 149, 642 units of blood in 2017. This amount represented 81 per cent of the state’s annual target of 180,000 units.
In Kenya, 2 of every 3 units of blood are transferred to mothers and children, according to KNBTS estimates. Quoting Ministry of Health statistics, Dr Githaiga, KNBTS Chief Executive, this is partly attributed by the high maternal mortality rate to bleeding just before, during or after childbirth, in addition to pregnancy related complications such as tubal pregnancy.
“The national requirement according to the WHO is standard is 400,000 units, working on the assumption that if 1 per cent of the population donated blood once a year, then it would have sufficient supply,” said Dr Githaiga.
“Our figures mean the country has not yet met the World Health Organization requirement of stocking at least 400,000 units of blood for transfusion,” she added.
She was addressing the media during a press briefing called to announce a massive one-day campaign scheduled for February 14 which is Valentine’s Day, dubbed #Show Your Love.
During an operation or related medical procedure, a person will need up to 4 bags during an operation. The campaign, which will be held see the service carry out blood donation drives simultaneously across 22 counties, aims at collecting at least 10,000 units of transfusion-suitable blood. In Nairobi, #ShowYourLove will take place at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.
“Blood donation apathy has resulted in low collections while the same adult donors are the highest recipients of blood. This scenario could be attributed to the poor blood donation culture among adult blood donors and in some instances lack of awareness among potential donors,” said Dr. Githaiga.
Dr Githaiga said the KNBTS had decided to pass the message of the need to donate blood to the public in an effort to boost its collection activities.
“To boost our national collection, the KNBTS has adopted a strategy of using information, education and communication in effort to create a culture of regular voluntary blood donation among these donors,” she said in a statement.
“It is unfortunate that maternal mortality in the country is 362 maternal deaths per every 100,000 live births. This translates to roughly 20 women a day dying from childbirth related complications,” said the medic.
She also said there was high demand for blood and blood products like platelets and plasma “owing to the rise in sporadic terror attacks, road traffic injuries, cancer diseases and anaemia caused by malaria and other medical conditions”.
She asked donors top consider repeat donations, saying the current donor repeat rate stands at 30 per cent of donors. This means 70 per cent of Kenyan blood donors have only done it once.
Echoing the KNBTS chief executive, Head of Technical Services Ms Rachel Githiomi said there was an ever increasing need for a reliable supply of blood and blood products.
“We can never have enough blood despite the KNBTS and WHO targets since there is no day that we will not require blood at all the given facilities. For instance, one region of the country could experience an upsurge of malaria cases, resulting in the need for transfusions due to more anaemia cases and the next time it could be another region with a high incidence of cancer cases that urgently need blood supply for patients,” said Ms Githiomi.
Ms Githiomi said the service supplied blood to medical facilities at no cost, saying the decision on whether to charge donors for the blood was the prerogative of the hospitals who were the custodians of the blood once it was released to them.
“We have no jurisdiction over the blood once it is released free of charge to the private and public hospitals that request us for it. However, we have requested the ministry of health to scale up our funding and introduce a payment clause for NHIF to pay for transfusions once patients require it during treatment,” said Ms Githiomi.
KNBTS is also working with the Pledge 25 Movement, a group of youths dedicated to doing multiple donations of at least 25 times in a lifetime. Others involved in the effort include BloodLink Foundation, Kenya Red Cross Society, Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), The Nairobi Hospital, NHIF, AMREF Health and Nairobi Women’s Hospital.