Urgent Plea As Blood Shortage Threatens Lives In Western Kenya

Experts have raised alarm over the severe blood shortage in Western Kenya, impacting emergency cases and routine medical procedures. The demand for blood, particularly in Kisumu, has reached critical levels.

Shadrack Juma, Regional Blood Transfusion Center Recruiter, emphasizes the urgency of the situation, stating that, ‘all blood types are in high demand, with O positive and A positive being most needed. The shortage is affecting health facilities in the region, leading to potential fatalities in emergencies and surgeries due to insufficient blood supply at the blood bank.’

The dire consequences extend to maternity wards, as Juma explains, ‘Pregnant mothers and those with ruptured uteruses face life-threatening situations due to the scarcity of blood. Children in need of transfusion are suffering, and the demand is exacerbated in Kisumu, a cosmopolitan town receiving referrals from multiple counties.’

He underscores the challenge of providing safe blood, saying, that despite collecting and testing blood,
contamination by bacteria or viruses forces them to destroy a significant portion.

Juma traces the decline in voluntary donors, revealing that, the number has drastically reduced, impacting the ability to meet the demand. Awareness campaigns and incentives, once in place, have diminished. Funding challenges, especially since the CDC’s departure, have left the county struggling to maintain sufficient bloodstock.

In an interview with KNA on Friday, he pointed out the need for community involvement, stating that, ‘Institutions such as schools, universities, and colleges are crucial for bridging the demand-supply gap. However, misconceptions about blood donation leading to death have affected voluntary contributions.’

The regional blood transfusion centers, established in 2001, now serve eight counties in the Lake region. Juma sheds light on operational challenges, including machine malfunctions and staff shortages, saying, ‘The machine must work, and qualified staff are essential. Currently, we face resource
constraints, affecting our ability to reach out to potential donors.’

He said, ‘Blood shortage will persist until adequate funding is secured. People queue and wait, sometimes until the next day, highlighting the gravity of the issue. Lives are at stake, and immediate action is needed to address the challenges faced by the blood transfusion centers in Western Kenya.’

Source: Kenya News Agency