On Monday June 14th 2021, Kenya joined the world in observing the World Blood Donor Day that aims to raise global awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion and of the critical contribution voluntary, unpaid blood donors make to national health systems. The day also provides an opportunity to call to action to governments and national health authorities to provide adequate resources and put into place systems and infrastructure to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors.
This call is of particular importance to Kenya’s blood donating agenda that has been riddled with a number of challenges among them blood shortages and illegal sale of donated blood to neighboring countries like Somalia. Calls for blood aid, mainly through social media, have become common among Kenyans seeking to save the lives of ailing loved ones. One of the causes of this shortage has been inadequate funding of the blood outreach programme that facilitated the collection of blood. In an article done by the BBC last year, Lamu Women Representative, Ruweida Obo highlighted the country’s over reliance on donor funding for such initiatives as a catalyst to the quagmire that caught the Kenyan government flat footed.
It is through the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service Bill, 2020 that Murang’a Women Rep seeks to guarantee the availability, quality and safety, access and affordability, and appropriate use of blood and blood products. The proposed law also wants to coordinate efforts between authorities and stakeholders to implement measures necessary to achieve the goals envisioned in the bill. With the implementation of the law, a proper framework will be put in place to ensure accountability of the blood service at national and county level.
This coupled with proper implementation of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) could see an improvement of blood collection at county level and further enhancement of the capacity of county health facilities. The bill also seeks to provide for adequate financing of the blood transfusion system as highlighted in Clause 20(a) that mandates the National Assembly to appropriate funds towards it. If this Bill comes to fruition and the National Assembly faithfully oversights the Blood Transfusion service, its implementation will turn around blood donation for the Kenyan populace.
The bill will also address the other challenge of safety of the blood being donated through best practices adopted by medics and the donors. This will be achieved through proper blood storage, setting up of laboratories in counties and sensitization of those who volunteer to donate their blood to the service. Transparency in the operations of the service will also instill faith in the public and encourage more volunteers, particularly first-time donors, to come forward and assist deal with the blood deficit that faces the country. It is therefore incumbent of the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the law in this current House to avoid further delays in putting this framework in place.