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Kenya needs 500,000 pints of blood to save lives

Kenya needs 500,000 pints of blood this year to save lives in the event of emergencies.

This came as Kenya unveiled blood ambassadors and flagged off blood bags and commodities to be distributed in all regions.

At least four ambassadors have been unveiled namely Kenyan by Blood Foundation Patron Charlene Ruto, Kenya’s Top Female Blood Donor Aisha Daffalla and Coalition of Blood for Africa Team Lead Caroline Wang’amati.

Kennedy Sanya, the highest blood donor in the country, was also in attendance.

Medical Services Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai called on blood ambassadors to spearhead blood donation drive.

The blood ambassadors, he said, would demystify myths about blood donation.

“Our unveiled blood ambassadors will reach to Kenyans to change the mind Kenyans have about blood donation. We also want to call upon Kenyans in regions and wherever they are to come on board to be ambassadors of blood donation,” said Kimtai.

Kenyans have been hesitant to donate blood since 2020, after the former Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe announced that blood was being sold to Somalia. 

Mr Kagwe directed the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to probe employees at the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) believed to have been part of a cartel that was siphoning blood donated by Kenyans to save lives.

Kimtai said the allegations are being addressed through the regulations and the bills at the Kenya Blood Transfusion and Transplant Service (KBTTS).

“Those who are fearing that there will be sell of blood, I do not think that is going to happen because there will be laws that will curb such kind of acts," he said.

"This is the assurance that we are giving members of the public that they need not worry, but come forward to donate blood so that we are all safe,” he pleaded.

The PS emphasised that Kenya needs ready blood to save lives, whenever there are emergencies.

“Last week, we had a fire tragedy and we saw the number of patients who were rushed to the hospital. Most of them required donation of blood because they were taken there for operations and, without blood, it would be difficult to operate on them," he said.

"We have had accidents, we have had challenges of our mothers facing challenges more so bleeding during delivery where they require an emergency blood donation,” he added.

“What we need is to have enough blood that is kept for such emergencies. I want to assure members of the public that we have enough storage facility. It is however shocking that our facilities are under utilised because blood is less.”

The PS said to meet World Health Organisation (WHO) target of adequate blood, at least one per cent of Kenyan population should donate blood.

“We are still far from it. We have a global target led by WHO,” he said.

During the event, at least 150,000 blood bags and essential supplies to six regional blood centres and 43 blood satellites to the counties were flagged off.

Sanya echoed Kimtai's plea, saying regular donation eases the transfusion process, whenever there is need.

“I encourage Kenyans, more so men and disciplined forced, to come and donate blood. We need to be regular blood donors for that whenever an emergency is reported, patients find blood at hospitals, not wait for the blood,” said Sanya, a court prosecutor in Nakuru.

Charlene, who is also the First Daughter, said blood donation is important to save lives during emergencies.

She asked Kenyans to be regular blood donors not only during emergencies. Charlene admitted that previously, she has been donating blood whenever there was need.

“As Kenyans if we take it (blood donation) personally we shall save lives. Imagine one day you are in a situation that you need blood, or your family member needs blood, then we shall be donating more blood because we keep looking for blood issue on referral or somebody we do not know,” she said.

Charlene comes on board the blood drive to attract youth to donate blood.

“The strength I bring to the table is my capacity with young people of Kenya, and not just Kenya but of Africa. We are 70 per cent of the population and our mean age is about 19.5 these are the same people I will be calling out. We are going to go to the universities, high schools and different institutions because as young people, if we do not lead this course, then it is going to fail,” she said.

She emphasised that if youths donate blood, at least 70 per cent of the country’s target will be achieved.

"What I bring on the table is rallying young people that we need to donate blood, and even for us to do that I know we have our fears getting to know our status but as young people if we actually live health lifestyle, we can save the lives of our brother, our mother, or young child somewhere,” she said.

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