The Meru county government, in conjunction with the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS), has established a 1,000-unit capacity blood bank at the Meru Referral Hospital.
This is part of efforts to increase access to life saving blood in the upper eastern region.
Speaking when he opened the satellite blood transfusion centre on Tuesday, Governor Kiraitu Murungi said plans are under way to install blood screening equipment and reagents at the facility in order to end reliance on the Embu transfusion centre.
“Many patients do not have timely access to safe blood because of financing challenges and inefficiencies in collection of the blood. This facility will go a long way in addressing access challenges in the region. We urge Meru residents to generously donate blood,” Mr Murungi said.
According to Meru Referral Hospital CEO Joseph Wahome, the satellite blood transfusion centre has increased the hospital’s blood bank capacity from 200 pints.
“The referral hospital alone uses about 600 pints of blood every month. We had to keep asking for supplies from Embu because of lack of capacity. The satellite centre will also ease access to health facilities in Isiolo and Marsabit,” Dr Wahome said.
Blood transfusion centre
He said that with establishment of the satellite blood transfusion centre, donors can now walk into the hospital and give blood.
Dr Wahome said the facility will soon be able to do screening and separation of blood and blood products.
The developments come after Health CS Mutahi Kagwe recently said the government is upgrading regional blood banks to increase their capacity from 95,642 units to at least 300,000 units.
Recently, Municipality MCA Elias Murega called for devolution of some of the mandates of the Blood Transfusion Service address shortages of blood in the country.
“KNBTS should be left with the mandate of monitoring quality and policy direction while counties coordinate blood donation and funding of blood banks. If counties lead blood donation drives, we can meet the demand,” he said.
According to KNBTS, about 60 per cent of the blood collected in the country is transfused to mothers and children, and about seven Kenyans need blood every 10 minutes.
Kenya needs about 450,000 units of blood annually, yet only 164,275 units were collected last year.