News / Africa

Blood Supply in Kenyan Health System Dangerously Low

Blood Supply in Kenyan Health System Dangerously Low
Blood Supply in Kenyan Health System Dangerously Low

Multimedia

Kenya's health-care system has little more than half of the blood supply it needs for transfusions, often resulting in only the most urgent cases being taken care of. Blood comes primarily from school-aged children, patients' relatives, and even from patients themselves. Less than 10 percent of adult Kenyans donate blood. The National Blood Transfusion Services says a big reason for this is because of fears among potential donors that they would find out their HIV status.

The emergencies are there, but the life-saving blood may not be.

Kenya's National Blood Transfusion Services estimates the country needs 200-thousand units of blood per year, to deal with illnesses, surgeries, accidents and other medical conditions.

But from the time the organization was established in 2001, the supply has sometimes been as low as 40,000 units. The most blood Kenya has ever had on hand is 130,000 units, a little more than half the target amount.

Dr. Walter Mwanda is head of blood transfusion services at Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya's largest public health care facility. He says blood shortages have a significant impact on medical procedures at his hospital.

"We leave the [small number of] units that there are for real, real, real [serious] cases," said Dr. Mwanda.  "So the first thing, I must admit, suffers is surgery: elective surgery. Stop."

Dr. Mwanda says elective surgeries that require blood are triaged on the basis of urgency. Patients undergoing long-term elective surgeries are advised to donate their own blood, a practice Dr. Mwanda says accounts for a significant percentage of the hospital's surgery blood supply.

Another major source of blood comes from the relatives of those who need the blood.
One such donor is university student Victor Joseph Oluoch.  He's supplying blood for his sister-in-law, who suffers from kidney complications.

"People did not accept to donate blood for her, so we had to volunteer as family members. The whole group that is donating to her is just from our family," said Oluoch.

Oluoch gives one reason for peoples' reluctance to donate blood.

"Some people believe that the blood they donate, the hospitals go ahead to sell them to other people. They feel that there is no need of donating - it is like they are donating their blood for commercial purposes," he explained.

Almost all of the blood collected by the National Blood Transfusion Services comes from high school and university students between the ages of 17 and 25.

Fewer than 10 percent of adult Kenyans donate blood to the blood bank, says Dr. Margaret Oduor, national director of the National Blood Transfusion Services.

"Most people are not comfortable with the fact that, at the end of it you will test their blood and give them their HIV [status]," explained Dr. Oduor.  "They are saying they would rather not know it that way, and that keeps them back. Because they are coming forward to give you blood, but at the end of it they may end up with bad news that they were not prepared for."

Dr. Oduor says in reality, only 1.3 percent of the blood collected is found to be HIV-positive.  Of the blood that has to be destroyed, almost half is caused by the presence of Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and syphilis, while the other half is due to problems in the collection process.

She and other health-care professionals urge Kenyans to get tested for HIV/AIDS in one of the many Volunteer Counseling and Testing Centers (VCTs).

"We are encouraging people who have gone to the VCTs and have known their status - because that fear has been removed - to come forward now to us and give us blood," added Dr. Oduor.

Health care professionals in Kenya are also pushing for what they call a structured donor system that involves regular education campaigns, blood drives, and mobile donor clinics to reach office workers and people living in rural areas.

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More