Chronic Shortage Of Blood Expected As US Government Backs Out On Funding

Blood Funding by US
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With no backup plan for blood collection or testing, the ministry of health will be in for a hard time as United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) annual funding of Sh2 billion for blood services will have run out in September.

The US government will stop funding the country’s blood services next month as PEPFAR has turned down Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki’s request for a six-month extension for undisclosed reasons, according to Business Daily. The hitch clocks in at a time of chronic shortage of blood due to lack of funds for screening tools and human resources to collect and store blood.

PEPFAR is the core of US global health assistance, which supports HIV/Aids treatment, testing and counselling for millions of people worldwide. Between 2004 and 2008, PEPFAR had given Sh7.25 billion, supporting all components into the blood services.

Bloodlink, a foundation on advocacy on blood services in the country executive director Joseph Wang’endo said termination of the funding will hurt sites where blood is screened and tested for HIV and the health ministry will be looking at a crisis that could be detrimental.

“The 18 national testing laboratories sites in the country have run out of the automated screening reagent, Abbott 800, which means we are running a manual platform which has slowed down blood screening in hospitals,” Mr Wang’endo said.

Nairobi and Nakuru are the only two of the six national centres that are currently screening blood, and with the manual procedures, the centres can only process 270 pints per day compared to the 800 on automation. Occasionally, the government in partnership with other organisations like Kenya Redcross, run blood donation drives to replenish stocks, which come in handy especially during emergencies.

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