Blood shortage hits the country as ‘cartels’ hold hospitals hostage


Blood shortage hits the country as 'cartels' hold hospitals hostage

There is a blood shortage in the country and it appears that the situation may have been contributed to by the actions of certain individuals who are minting money through the blood business.

Several counties have reported  severe blood shortage, among them, Nakuru, Machakos, Garissa and Kisumu.

At the office of the National Council of Community Based Organisations boxes full of blood bags continue to gather dust due to a disagreement between the council and the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS).

According to the councils’ president Tom Ausa, KNBTS has denied them the chance to conduct a blood drive in Nakuru County, that was set to boost the county’s blood bank reserve.

“We were stopped from conducting a blood drive in Nakuru on claims that we had not followed the right procedure. After that we wrote to Dr. Frida Govedi of KNBTS so that she can tell us what procedure we are supposed to follow…” said Ausa.

However, those letters though bearing the received stamp have never received any replies. The blood drive in Nakuru was to be the second one after the council had finished a similar drive in Machakos County.

KNBTS has been Kenya’s only blood bank, collecting, testing, processing and distributing blood and blood products to all transfusing hospitals in Kenya. But following the withdrawal of the U.S government’s, PEPFAR funding, the blood bank has been running dry.

According to an insider in one of the referral hospitals in the country, since the withdrawal of the PEPFAR funding, there have been no reagents, tubes or blood bags, all basics of blood donation.

“Individuals are pushing blood to certain hospitals in the country because they will get paid commission for it. Those that cannot fund that habit lose out on having any blood in their reserves,“ said a source.

Additionally, it has provided an opportunity for individuals to mint money by pushing blood in certain hospitals, leaving those that cannot be able to fund the need, lose out on ever having any blood reserve despite the demand.

A pint of blood may cost between Ksh.6,000 to Ksh.17,000.

Felix Juma, is one among many Kenyans who have had to survive their deteriorating health after he missed out on blood transfusion at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

“When I was told there is no blood, I called my relatives from Siaya and they came and donated but I could still not be given blood. When I asked why, they kept telling me to wait until it got to a point where no one was speaking to us. I asked for a discharge letter, which they gave to me and prescribed some medicine,” says Felix in Machakos.

That incident made him tear apart his blood transfusion card, saying there was no need for him to continue donating blood if at all he could not access it when he was in need.

At the moment, a bill proposing to have the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service get its funding from the exchequer, is said to be facing a lot of opposition, since it will reportedly curtail the side dealings of individuals.

But as it stands, the blood shortage in the country is severe.

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