By Silvia Nyambura
Uganda’s blood collection currently stands at 7 units per 1,000 inhabitants. This is against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended rate of 10 units per 1,000 inhabitants. Uganda’s statistics therefore translate into a 30% deficit.
According to the Uganda Blood Transfusion Service (UBTS) Executive Director Dr. Dorothy Kyeyune, the country needs 350,000 units of blood annually but can only raise between 270,000 and 300,000.
“This leaves an annual lethal deficit of between 50,000 to 100,000 units and this needs to be bridged. Blood is critical in the care and treatment of coronary heart diseases, HIV/AIDS, perinatal conditions, malaria, road traffic accidents, cancer and sickle cell anaemia. These are some of the leading causes of death in Sub-Sahara Africa,” she said.
Kyeyune was addressing journalists at the launch of a nationwide blood donation and education campaign organized by communications agencies, The Firm and EquatorOne. The campaign dubbed ‘77 Days of Giving Blood’ (#77DOGB)’ will run from today 12th April to 27th July 2017 with an aim of collecting 400 units of blood daily for the said period. This translates into 30,800 units of blood by the end of July.
Muhereza Kyamutetera the Executive Chairman of Kyamutetera Holdings- the parent company of The Firm and EquatorOne said, “This is a non-profit campaign to whip up awareness about the importance of blood in healthcare and the overall achievement of national health objectives. We hope to cultivate a donating culture amongst Ugandans since blood cannot be manufactured.”
He noted the campaign will be conducted through creating a coalition of the willing mostly made up of media and influential people with a big online following to spread the message.
“In addition, it is important, at an individual level, for people to get tested and know their blood type and any blood-related conditions that they may have and how to treat them,” he added.
Kyeyune concluded by saying, “This campaign is timely, ahead of the World Blood Donor Day on June 14th 2017 and is a reminder to all Ugandans that voluntary, unpaid blood donation is a real act of giving life- the greatest gift any person can give or receive. It is also a reminder that voluntary, unpaid blood donation must be increased rapidly in order to ensure a reliable supply of safe blood for patients whose lives depend on it.”
Nyambura is a senior journalist based in Kampala