The Ministry of Health has started a campaign for the public to donate blood to mitigate the current shortage in the country.
Kenya is facing a shortage of blood supplies in its hospitals, with relatives and friends of patients increasingly having to put out calls for people to donate.
In some cases, the Kenya Red Cross will post these social media appeals on Twitter.
Kenya’s population is 47 million, so even if just 1 per cent donated blood, the country would have at least 470,000 units. But in 2018/2019, only 164,000 units of blood were collected, much less than these guidelines, as Kenyans are reluctant to donate.
The figures have not changed much over the years.
The Government has been holding public blood donation events. It is also targeting adult donors to avoid blood shortages during school holidays as it relies heavily on donations by secondary school pupils.
The vast majority of funding for blood collection - some 80 per cent - came from outside donors, according to a recent government report. This ensured there was money for essential supplies, personnel and other blood safety-related costs.
The main donor was the US government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief - known as Pepfar. It’s a programme to help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/Aids around the world.
Kenya was a major beneficiary of this, but funding was cut back last September, as a result of which supplies and equipment for the blood supply programme stopped.
On February 18, Ruweida Obo, Lamu County MP, said the problem has been over-reliance on donors. “When the funds were cut the government didn’t have an alternative plan in place,” she says.
In December last year, blood shortage in hospitals in Nyanza worsened, with several hospitals reporting that they had depleted their stocks.
The crisis at the blood bank was also attributed to the US government withdrawing funding from the country’s blood-related services.
With the crippling shortage, patients in need of blood are forced to pay for it from their own pocket.