Government to ensure sustainability and availability of blood

Health Cabinet Secretary, Sicily Kariuki awarding the three top blood donors at her office in Afya house.


Nairobi (KENYA) Thursday 12 September 2019 – The government last  evening awarded the world’s top blood donor Arjun Prasad Mainali and two other national top male and female  blood donors  Kennedy Sanya and Aisha Dafalla with certificates for their support in improving access to safe blood and blood products.

The three have set a good example to Kenyans and helped in demystifying the myths about blood donation and show that it is possible to close the gap of 1 million units of blood as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO)

Speaking last evening during the award ceremony at her office, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said as the country inches closer to Universal Healthcare coverage the need for blood will go up thus if only 2 percent of the population donates blood it will be possible to close the gap .

“We need at least 1.5  to 2 percent  of Kenya’s population to donate blood every year . Science shows that on average a healthy man can safely donate 4 times a year and a woman every 3 times a year, hence it is possible to meet the blood unit requirements if we pull together”, she said.

Kariuki noted that currently, the country needs an approximate 1,000,000 units of blood annually but last year the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service  (KNBTS) collected a total of 164,275 units of blood, which is significantly below the annual target as per World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

The current deficit, the CS explained reaffirms the need to implement a sustainable blood system, thus the Ministry will launch the Kenyan monthly blood donation day in order to increase the number of voluntary donors .

Although that there are other massive blood drives being organized by the blood service , as a country, the CS noted we need to establish a pool of regular voluntary non-remunerated blood donors, which will ensure the blood shortage is a thing of the past.

To  further ensure the institutionalization and interventions, Kariuki  said that the Ministry has incorporated priority interventions in the Blood Bill for parliamentary approval.

“The bill will provide a robust legislative and regulatory framework that will aim to strengthen the current blood transfusion governance structures that will facilitate steady availability of the county’s blood need,” Kariuki said.

The CS noted that with the Big four Agenda, the Government will upon completion of the UHC Pilot exercise and roll out to the rest of the 43 counties ensure sustainability in the availability of blood and blood products.

“We are working jointly with County Governments to increase available blood stock and this will involve the set-up of additional satellites from the current 26 to 40 satellite sites,” the CS said .

Kariuki assured the nation that the country is well equipped and have strategies in place to store the blood collected from the ongoing blood drive.

Arjun Mainalla world’s leading donor with a record of 172 times said his journey started back 1987 and was inspired to start donating blood by a person in the United States who had also donated blood many times saving  many lives.

“I have tried to mobilize people to donated blood and from my campaigns, I have managed to inspire more than 15,000 blood donors globally with blood donation messages and crusades,” said Mainalla.

Kennedy Sanya nation’s leading donor has donated 91 times to date while Aisha Dafalla nation’s leading female donor, who says despite her parents discouraging her not to donate, has so far donated 64 times.

KNBTS is currently serving over 500 transfusing hospitals nationally with blood and blood components. It is also working with stakeholders to address blood shortage and ensure sustainable supply of safe and adequate blood for transfusion.

A robust, sustainable blood system is a crucial component of every health care system. The availability of safe blood and blood products is a prerequisite for various health care services that include surgeries, treatments for cancer and other acute and chronic medical conditions, trauma care, organ transplantation, and childbirth: all lifesaving procedures that require blood.