Dr Diana Atwiine, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health has officiated at the handover of 2 vans from Rotary Club to Mengo Hospital to facilitate blood donation mobilization activities.
This is in addition to constructing and equipping of the Mengo Hospital Rotary Blood Bank.
We pledge to support this blood bank to be able to process blood and increase supply to save more lives. We thank Rotary for this great contribution.
Uganda has in the passed grappled with a critical shortage of blood that was affecting services and putting patients’ lives at risk.
The Health Ministry’s blood bank facility in the capital, Kampala, which stores and distributes supplies to hospitals, is practically empty sometimes. It has had few units of blood that are not enough to meet requirements on an average day in the city.
However, Dr Diana Atwiine has worked with partners like Rotary Club to boost blood in the City. A second blood bank has been constructed at Mengo hospital and will be supported by government.
Nationally, Uganda needs at least 340,000 units of safe blood annually, but usually only collects 200,000 a year.
The Uganda Medical Association, an umbrella organisation of doctors in public health facilities, said before that shortage of blood sometimes is at crisis level resulting in the cancellation of hospital operations and prioritization of cases.
Mukuzi Muhereza, the association’s secretary-general, said: “It’s a big, nationwide problem. It’s emergency level, a crisis. Nearly every hospital is crying [out] for blood. Nearly every regional referral hospital is complaining about blood.”
An extra 7 billion shillings (£1.4m) is needed to procure donor and testing kits, and to fund blood donation drives, to get the service back on track for the next six months.
Last year, 14bn shillings was allocated to the national blood transfusion service and national medical stores. At least 21bn shillings was required.
The health budget has been cut from 1,850tn shillings in the current financial year to 1,714tn in 2018-19.
“The people responsible for the blood chain system must be brought to account for their offices and not simply sit and enjoy trips abroad where they go present papers.”
Dennis Odwe, health and policy specialist at the Foundation for Integrated Rural Development, said government priorities did not align with the needs of Ugandans.
“The blood bank, which should have more money to do its specialised work of collecting blood and saving lives, will be rendered useless by the budget cut … yet the demand for blood is very high in the country.
“Blood is needed by mothers in the delivery wards, accident patients and other clients that go to the hospitals. Investing less in blood means losing lives, yet this is something government can have control over.”
Muhereza said blood collections need to be decentralised to allow regional and district hospitals to do their own collections. “This is very possible … We have lab technology all over the country,” said Muhereza.
“If you decentralise at source we can always encourage people to donate. But you can’t donate blood in Gulu when the blood transfusions services is in Kampala.”