Kenya in ambitious plan to clean donated blood

By RS Writer

The Ministry of Health will spend about Sh2.025 billion to ensure all donated blood is safe for transfusion to patients.

This follows persistent reports showing a significant amount of donated blood in Kenya is contaminated with disease causing germs including HIV, hepatitis and syphilis.

In October the Ministry of Health had vehemently denied a report appearing in a foreign scientific journal claiming blood donated to the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) was significantly contaminated with HIV, hepatitis and syphilis.

The Ministry had demanded the journal Blood Disorders & Transfusion withdraw the report something that has not happed so far.

Despite the denials by the ministry a new report by among others the Regional Blood Transfusion Center, Kisumu and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows worrying levels of contamination of donated blood in western Kenya.

The report also involving Maseno University and the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, and published in the journal BMC Research Notes on 12th March shows 9.4 per cent of donated blood to be contaminated with HIV, hepatitis and syphilis.

The study says despite efforts to improve the safety of donated blood in the country a substantial per cent of the blood still harbor infections that can be transmitted to blood recipients.

Responding to the challenge the Ministry of Health is investing Sh2.025 billion to ensure KNBTS has the capacity to provide safe blood to the whole country within three years.

Currently, the ministry says KNBTS is only able to meet 52 per cent of the total national blood needs. There is little data showing the quality of blood collected and transfused outside the national blood bank system.

In the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for 2018 to 2021 the ministry says it will fund the blood bank to upgrade on safety and quantity to service the total national demand.

The report published in November shows the funding will go into procuring modern blood collection, storage and processing technologies that will make the bank more efficient and blood much safer.

Currently much of transfusion in Kenya involves whole blood as opposed to international best practice where patients are only transfused with the component of blood required.

“It has been shown that close to 95 per cent of all transfusions require blood components and only about 5 per cent require whole blood,” says the MTEF report.

The ministry says the bank’s problems are due to inadequate capacity in human resource and lack of specialized infrastructure and storage equipment including transport facilities.

“We are therefore proposing that with adequate support KNBTS should be able to progressively upscale its activities and meet the county’s blood demand in the next three years,” says the ministry report.

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