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Red Cross in fresh appeal for blood donation

By Nelson Kiva

Added 24th January 2019 07:24 PM

The country has been collecting about 250,000 units of blood short of target with 50,000 units.

Red Cross in fresh appeal for blood donation

Laboratory technician, Mariam Ssonga displaying the blood in the freezer during press conference at Uganda Blood Bank on January 24, 2019. Photo by Mary Kansiime

The country has been collecting about 250,000 units of blood short of target with 50,000 units.

KAMPALA - The Uganda Red Cross Society yesterday put a fresh appeal for blood donation, more especially people with blood group O.

Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga and a cross-section of Members of Parliament (MPs) during plenary on Tuesday, raised concerns over allegations of blood shortage in some hospitals across the country.

Though the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, refuted the allegations, she admitted shortage of blood group O, especially type O-negative at Mulago National Referral Hospital.

It's important to note that the blood type distribution may be different for specific racial and ethnic groups.

Type O-negative blood is called the universal donor type because it is compatible with any blood type.

Type AB-positive blood is called the universal recipient because a person who has it can receive blood of any type.

Addressing journalists, shortly after the commissioning of the newly constructed Red Cross central Warehouse at Bwebajja in Makindye Division in Kampala  on Wednesday URCS secretary general, Robert Kwesiga, agreed;

"There is shortage in blood group O stocks. Our appeal is to blood group O donors who are due, to come and donate so that we refill the stocks."

A complete warehouse structure worth over sh700m, constructed at the Uganda Red-Cross Kampala south branch offices was funded by Belgian Red Cross Flanders.

Stocks for the other groups (A, AB and B), Kwesiga said are sometimes catered for by the blood type O-negative since it is universal.

Blood type distribution by country indicatives reveal that around 50% of the global population is blood type O.  As a result, this naturally puts a strain on supplies.

In Uganda, 43.7% of the population is type 0+, 39% are A+, 10.7% (B+), 3.9% (AB+), 1.3% (O-), 1.0% (A-), 0.3% (B-) and 0.1% (AB-).

Towards the end of last year, Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS) reported an increase in blood collected. For instance by June last year, it had collected over 90,000 units of blood in a period of only four months.

This was a significant boost from last year's January -February a cute blood shortage that paralyzed the health sector.

A mass drive for blood donation to save life supported by the Government bodies, non-governmental organisations and the private sector was launched by UBTS.
Uganda needs 300,000 units of blood every year to sustain theatre operations and responding to emergency needs from accidents, among others. Every month the country needs 25,000 units of blood.

But the country has been collecting about 250,000 units of blood short of target with 50,000 units. 

Kwesiga warned the general public against buying blood saying that blood is supposed to be free in both government and private health facilities, insisting that nobody is allowed to sell it to anyone.

The Ambassador of the Belgium Royal Embassy in Uganda, H.E Hugo Verbist, assured that Belgian Red-Cross Fladers and the government were committed to improving the quality of lives of the most vulnerable persons in Uganda especially those affected by natural and human disasters.

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