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Relatives could be asked to donate blood for loved ones if shortage persists

FILE PHOTO: There is shortage of blood due to the lockdown that led to the closure of educational institutions which are the major blood donors.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (BTS) could be forced to turn to relatives and friends of patients in need of blood to donate or mobilize for blood if the lockdown persists. This is according to the agency’s executive director Dorothy Byabazaire Kyeyune.

The desperate move comes amidst a shortage of blood due to the lockdown that led to the closure of educational institutions which are the major blood donors. The blood bank collected 56,800 units against a target of 75,000 units of blood in April, the time when the country was in total lockdown.

Byabazaire explains that amidst the shortage, the cost of getting blood has also gone up because teams have to go deep in the villages in the search for donors who can no longer be brought to a single collection point due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

She added that if the situation persists, voluntary blood drives might be halted and instead ask relatives and friends of patients who need blood to donate and save their loved ones. Kyeyune was appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament on Tuesday to respond to queries raised by the Auditor General in his report entity for the financial year ended June 2019.

According to Kyeyune, they are now giving blood to only those who need it while advocating for other alternatives like fluids and advising on good diets among others. She says they have also introduced blood accountability forms to ensure that blood is not wasted.

The entity has also asked Parliament to compel the Ministry of Finance to pay National Medical stores a debt of 10 billion Shillings for supplies for blood transfusion and collection. Byabazaire says that  National Medical Stores is hesitant to give them supplies since the government has not yet paid a for supplies they got from the stores.

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