By Moses Oketayot
In partnership with Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UTBS), Airtel Uganda, has rallied the public to take part in the 12-Day blood donation drive campaign aimed at reducing blood shortages in health facilities. The 12-day blood donation drive commenced on 15th March 2022 and will run until 31st March 2022.
The campaign is being conducted in select Secondary Schools and City Centers around Kampala, Kira, Kireka and Bweyogerere. In Kampala, the drive is being held at St. Kizito High School, Nalya Senior Secondary School Bweyogerere, St. Henry’s College Kyaliwajala, Kira Senior Secondary School – Kireka among others.
Commenting on the drive, at Kira Health Centre IV, Charity Rwabutomize Bukenya, Airtel Uganda, CSR Manager, said “Blood Transfusion is a requisite component of health care that underwrites saving of millions of lives in routine and emergency situations and dramatically improves life expectancy of patients. Airtel is intent on making yearly contributions to the Uganda Blood Bank through partnership with the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services to rally customers and eligible blood donors to donate blood and keep the world beating. Through the 12-day drive we hope to collect 1,000 units of blood.”
She added, “The Uganda Blood Transfusion Services recognized Airtel Uganda’s Be R.E.D Campaign (Be Responsive. Empathetic. Do it. Campaign) on World Blood Donor Day on 14th June 2021 as instrumental in raising awareness on the cause of blood donation, the blood donation centers and creating mobile blood donation centers that create an opportunity for eligible donors to give the gift of blood. We continue to reach out to different communities through the competence and support of the UBTS team that is aggressively championing sensitization drives on blood donation across the country.”
According to the World Health Organisation’s Global Database on Blood Safety, a country should be able to collect blood equivalent to one percent of its population. Uganda has an estimated population of 45,903,545 people. This means the country needs to collect 459,035 units of blood annually.
Speaking to journalist on the 11th day of the blood donation drive, Esther Awori, a Blood Donor Recruiter at Uganda Blood Transfusion Services at the Nakasero Blood Bank, said that: “Uganda needs more blood due to the growth in the population, and other health-related areas like the growing number of pregnant mothers, sickle cell patients, and children with malaria who require blood transfusion among other groups of people, therefore, blood donation drives are very crucial as they aid with reducing blood shortages in health facilities.”
However, she also decried the poor perception among the members of the public on blood donation, whereby during school holidays, there is always scarcity in the blood banks.
Uganda requires 300,000 units of blood annually, whereby the central region taking the lion’s share because most of the major referral hospitals are located in the central region.
On who qualifies to donate blood, Awori had this to say: “Whoewver is well or healthy qualifies to donate blood and without any chronical illnesses like asthma, sickle cell, epilepsy etc, and starting from the age of 17. A amale regular donor can donate blood 4 times a year after every three months and stops at the age of 6o, and women can donate three times a year every four months and stops at 55 years of age.”
On the challenge of people having to pay money to get blood transfusion services from hospitals yet it is supposed to be free of charge, Awori said that those who are selling blood are doing it illegally, and the public can report such cases to the blood blood so that the culprits are brought to book
She further hailed Airtel Uganda for extending support towards this noble cause and urged other corporate accompanies to come on board.
Jane Auma from the Airtel Uganda PRO office, said they have so far collected 696 unit of blood, mmostly from secondary schools and public schools. The target according to Auma is to collect 1,ooo units by the end of the 12 day drive on Tuesday 29th Marchw which will be at St Peters Secondary School Naalya in Wakiso district.
Students contribute 90% of the blood stock at Uganda blood Bank.
The drive will also be done at the national level according to Auma with the target of 3,000 units by the end of the year.