Uganda’s National Blood Bank in Nakasero, Kampala is acutely in need of blood.
The head of the blood bank says that they have about 100 units of blood yet on a normal day, the blood bank should ideally give out at least 1,000 units, leaving a shortage of 900 units. A unit of blood is 450 millilitres, about half a litre.
Besides, the blood bank has and has conducted blood donation mobilization drives in the last four months due to a 1.2-billion-shilling fuel shortage.
The institution also lacks special blood collection bags and essential equipment for blood transfusion.
For over nine months now, the blood bank has suffered an acute fuel shortage which has crippled its operations, especially the mobilization to have people donate blood, indirectly leading to deaths and leaving many other lives at risk.
According to the Executive Director of Uganda Blood Transfusion Services, Dr Dorothy Kyeyune, the Bank survived on donations from the American Government under the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR). But this is no more.
The blood bank now needs at least 1.2 billion shillings for fuel alone.
The funding gap has also affected essential supplies used in blood collection, meaning that even when there’s blood, there will be no blood bags to safely collect and store this essential item.
The World Health Organization recommends at least 300,000 units of blood per year for Uganda’s population of over 35 million. But last year, Uganda only collected 240,000 units of blood, leaving a 60,000-unit shortfall.
Students and other learners are the main blood donors to the bank but whenever they are on holiday, like the current long festive season holiday, blood collection sharply declines.