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US launches blood donation campaign

14 February 2014, 20:01

Nairobi - The units of blood donated by Kenyans have more than quadrupled to an annual 158 000 over the past decade, United States Ambassador, Robert Godec, said.

He spoke on Friday at the launch of the Valentine’s Day Blood Drive and Mobile Donation Unit at the Kenya International Conference Centre.

“With the collaboration of partners and with President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief support, Kenya has made great progress in achieving these goals and has much to celebrate.  We congratulate the National Blood Transfusion Service, the Ministry of Health, and the many partners engaged in supporting blood safety and blood donor mobilization,” he said.

“Despite challenges, Kenya and its partners have come a long way.  For example, in 2004, when the PEPFAR program began, Kenya collected only
37,000 units of blood.  But in 2013, over 158,000 units of blood were collected, a four and half fold increase.  The hard work of those who made this happen is clear and all responsible have earned our thanks.  While the progress that has been made is good news, there remain challenges ahead for Kenya.”

Godec said safe blood was critical for all Kenyans, most of all for the vulnerable.

Among these are mothers giving birth, young children suffering from malaria and victims of road traffic accidents.

“As a result, the quality of our blood safety and donation programs is of great importance.  To maintain a safe and sufficient blood supply, Kenya must ensure it uses and maintains best practices in blood donation, transfusion, and storage.  Laboratories that test the safety of blood products and hospitals that use blood must likewise operate under the highest standards,” added Godec.

He said among challenges will be to bring blood services in the country in line with the new devolved system of health care while ensuring equity and access for all citizens, funding and lastly, due to the shortage of blood, hospitals have resorted to asking family members to donate for those needing blood in less than ideal conditions.

“However, we know Kenya is up to these challenges, and this mobile donation unit is a great example of how Kenya is meeting them.  The United States, through CDC and PEPFAR, will continue to support Kenya in increasing blood safety for the Kenyan people.  We have 50 years of partnership in so many areas, and our commitment to help Kenya improve its health system will continue,” Godec said.

- CAJ News


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