First Lady leads Kenyans in marking World Blood Donor day

Kenya: First Lady Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta today led Kenyans in commemorating the World Blood Donor Day.

The World Blood Donor Day is marked annually on the 14th of June to raise awareness of the importance of blood donation, the need for safe blood for transfusion – and to thank blood donors for their gift of life.

This years’ global theme is “Safe Blood for saving mothers”.

Speaking at the function, the First Lady said this year’s theme resonates very well with her “Beyond Zero” initiative that aims to improve maternal, neonatal and child healthcare in Kenya.

She however, expressed concern that many patients requiring blood transfusion do not have timely access to safe blood.

Hence she reminded Kenyans on the importance of donating blood saying every time they donate blood, they are saving lives.

“Blood cannot be manufactured, and there is no real substitute for it. It is in constant demand for accident victims, hemophiliacs, surgeries, infants, and more,” she affirmed.

The First Lady noted that every 10 minutes 7 Kenyans who need blood are at risk of dying if it is not available.

She said in order to maintain sufficient blood supply; the country needs at least one percent of the 40 million Kenyans to donate blood at least once every year.

“Too many babies are lost in the first 28 days of life. The new born has a limited capacity to tolerate acute haemorrhage. Blood loss can occur in the new born prior to birth or during delivery, obstetric accidents and maternal bleeding,” she added.

 She appealed to Kenyans to donate blood and save mothers and children, saying the exercise should be seen as a mutual life-saving aid between Kenyans.

Adding, “We cannot remain indifferent to others’ needs. We will not. Our nation’s blood supplies need to be replenished constantly, as blood products have a short shelf life.”

She expressed her gratitude to a fifteen year old girl Erika Njeri Gachoka who participated and completed a 42 kilometres Chicago Marathon race, last year October with the aim to raise 50 million shillings for the purchase of Mobile Blood Collection Units.

While appreciating the efforts that Kenyans continue making to boost the nation’s blood banks, the First Lady appealed to adult population in Kenya to emulate Erika Njeri’s example in the drive to bring blood to everyone who needs it.

 “With blood shortages occurring countrywide, it is important to create a network of young blood donors who commit to donating regularly,” the First Lady said.

She said efforts by the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service will strengthen her campaign for zero maternal deaths, and at the same time help the Government achieve the millennium development goal 4 and 5 that focus on maternal and child health by the year 2015.

The First Lady Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta disclosed that so far her Beyond Zero initiative has received funds from friends and well-wishers to purchase 10 mobile clinics.

She said the mobile clinics are currently being fabricated and fitted with clinic apparatus adding that she will roll out the first one in July.

“The London Marathon was just the start, and I will keep running until I see the realization of the ‘Beyond Zero’ dream of creating a better and a safer Kenya for our mothers and children,” the First Lady reiterated.

Cabinet Secretary for Health James Macharia said adequate blood stock is a national strategic and health security importance especially in case of a major disaster or terrorist attacks that requires blood for transfusion.

He said it is only through voluntary donations that a country can accumulate a supply of safe blood that is available exactly when and where needed.

“Blood is a national resource that cannot be owned by one county or another,” said Mr. Macharia.