Blood transfusion services will not be affected following donor pullout

Nairobi, KENYA September 12, 2019 – The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Sicily Kariuki has assured that blood transfusion services in Kenya will not be affected by the withdrawal of funding by the major donor from the end of this month.

Speaking during a press briefing held at the Ministry headquarters Afya House in Nairobi yesterday, Mrs Kariuki said blood transfusion services will continue as “normal” despite the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) announcement to stop providing the Sh2 billion annual funding from September 2019.

According to experts, the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) was established in 2000 following the terrorist bomb attack on the US Embassy building in downtown Nairobi in 1998 where more than 200 people were killed as more than 5,000 others were injured.

In the last 15 years (2004—2018) for example, PEPFAR has been providing the bulk of funding to support Kenya’s blood collection and testing for HIV, HBV, HCV and Syphilis—to the tune of approximately $72.5 million (Sh7.25 billion) for the country’s blood safety programme.

The funding has also been channeled to support infrastructure including buildings, vehicles and equipment, policy and guidelines, training, blood collection, blood testing and processing, blood establishment equipment computer software (BECS) as well as appropriate blood utilization.

Yesterday, Mrs Kariuki observed: “I would like to thank the US government for the support it has been extending to KNBTS over the years…

“However, as a responsible government, we would  like to reassure all Kenyans that we shall strive to ensure the funding gap is addressed appropriately.”

The CS was speaking when she awarded recognition certificates to the world’s highest blood donor Mr Arjun Prasad Mainali, 51, as well as Kenya’s leading male and female blood donors MrAlpha Sanya and Aisha Dafalla respectively.

The trio had earlier in the day attended a blood donation ceremony held near the Kenya National Archives where they urged all healthy Kenyans to turn up in large numbers to donate blood during the three-day blood drive.

The US-based Mainali has donated blood 172 times since 1987 while Mr Sanya and Ms Dafalla, 56,  have donated 91 and 64 times respectively.

“It is sad to note that, 600,000 pregnant women die annually due to lack of blood in Africa annually and this sad scenario can be reversed if healthy people donate blood regularly…

“Donating blood is not a harmful harmful practice and should be embraced by all healthy individuals,” said Mainali who has traveled to several African countries including Malawi, Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda advocating for healthy individuals to adopt the habit to alleviate the current shortage of blood.

Ms. Dafalla also urged women to adopt the practice in a bid to avert the high mortality rates among pregnant women while Mr Sanya lauded the CS for recognizing donors who donated blood regularly to save lives.