'But the donors made it clear they would only be in the country for a period of time and now they have left'
BY ALICE WAITHERA @Alicewangechi
The government should immediately launch a blood transfusion drive to end the deaths of people due to shortage of the vital fluid, an MP has said.
Murang'a Woma Representative Sabina Chege on Saturday said the withdrawal od donors who have been sponsoring transfusion drives has resulted in shortage across hospitals.
Chege who is the chairperson of the National Assembly's Health Committee said the government must urgently step in and fund the activities.
She said the donors have been funding blood transfusion service since the 1998 bomb blast in Nairobi through satellite blood collection centres.
“But the donors made it clear they would only be in the country for a period of time and now they have left,” Chege said.
She noted that the government had however not budgeted for services, throwing the sector into disarray.
She said she visited a blood centre in Mombasa and found most staff had been sent home with the facility only relying on walk-in donations.
Public hospitals are therefore forced to source for blood from private facilities, she said.
The MP said Sh16 billion was allocated for the health sector in the supplementary budget and asked that the funds be immediately disbursed to blood transfusion services.
Chege said she was working on a bill that will ensure blood services are available in all hospitals, both private and public. The bill wants the establishment of an independent body that will look for funds to undertake blood services.
“The bill is almost ready and I will write to the Speaker (Justin Muturi) this week so the legislation can go for publication and become a bill,” Chege said.
She promised the bill will be fast tracked and be in place by March next year.
"Blood is crucial and many women are dying while giving birth because hospitals do not have blood. Cancer is also consuming a lot of blood which is required during chemotherapy," Chege said.
“This is an emergency and as we debate other things, we are sending an alert to the government and lawmakers to make sure the services are restored.”
The MP Lauded the Building Bridges Initiative report for recommending the establishment of a Health Service Commission.
She said there are specialists that cannot be equally distributed in the country especially oncologists.
The issue of human resource in the health sector has been a challenge and workers have experienced payment delays that dampen their morale, she said.
She said the commission will make it possible for health workers to be deployed to any area and have doctors who leave for further studies promptly replaced.
The MP said Level 5 hospitals should be put under the management of the national government while counties concentrate on primary health care from community health workers to level 4 hospitals.
Each county has a level 5 hospital.
“Just as BBI report suggests, we want every public officer to visit public hospitals and educate their children in public schools but we will then need to make the public sector more competitive than the private sector,” Chege said.
She said Kenyans need to ask what changed as decades ago, patients would be referred from private facilities to Kenyatta National Hospital.
“The report is an opportunity for Kenyans to start asking themselves crucial questions and ensure they are well taken care of by the taxes they pay.”
edited by p. obuya