In Summary
  • Access to safe, sustainable and quality blood and blood components is the key to better healthcare and health services.

  • A healthy nation is central to human happiness and well-being.

  • It also makes an important contribution to economic progress since healthy populations live longer, are more productive and save more.

Across the globe, blood continues to be more in demand than ever before.

The many reasons for that include rising numbers of non-communicable diseases, increasing availability of new surgeries, national and institutional policies, lack of infrastructure and trained personnel, and limited financial resources to support a voluntary non-remunerated donor transfusion service — not to mention existing and emerging threats of transfusion-transmitted infection.

These factors limit supply.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates Kenya’s annual blood requirement at 450,000 units, which is expected to rise with population growth. That means, to achieve blood sufficiency, at least one per cent of Kenyans must donate blood once a year.

However, too few blood donors, lack of prioritisation for blood in the health development agenda, minimal investment in the blood sector and capacity gaps in the healthcare system are all major obstacles to meeting this target.

Sadly, the people most affected by the blood shortage are women and children, especially during childbirth. Post-partum haemorrhage (blood loss after delivery) is the leading cause of maternal deaths in the first 24 hours after childbirth.

According to WHO, post-partum haemorrhage contributes to 35 per cent of total maternal deaths annually. This is a particular problem for women in rural areas who give birth at home and are often far away from proper healthcare.

Africa has substantially reduced maternal and child mortality. According to the “Sustainable Development Report 2018”, the maternal mortality rate in Sub-Saharan Africa has dropped 35 per cent since 2000 while mortality rate for children under five halved.

However, Sub-Saharan Africa is progressing more slowly than the other regions and contains 25 of the 30 lowest-ranked countries in which to give birth.

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