KENYA – Amref Health Africa has partnered with Kenya’s Ministry of Health and the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) for better management of blood supply and blood demand in concerted efforts to ensure availability of safe blood in the country.

The joint initiative targets innovative solutions for the management of blood services which can accelerate the attainment of universal health coverage (UHC) by ensuring access to a timely supply of safe blood to the marginalized and vulnerable communities particularly women and children.

In addition, the partnership aims to develop and incubate innovative solutions that are geared towards supporting devolved governance, addressing the needs of vulnerable populations as well as measures to combat infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases and maternal mortality.

Amref and Kenya’s Health ministry are working closely to adopt innovative last-mile delivery solutions in the delivery and distribution of critical medical supplies including blood transportation to healthcare centres which is hugely critical to saving lives.

Without the empowerment of the people-centered primary healthcare systems, universal health coverage will take longer coming. The journey requires integration and, hence, partnership cultivation and development are crucial.

The partnership seeks to address gaps in national blood availability and transfusion challenges facing Kenya since a shortage in blood supplies often presents a life or death situation in most emergency cases while poor roads and extreme weather conditions in remote areas hamper the delivery time.

The collaboration for safe blood in Kenya comes at a time when local blood supply has hits critically low levels since seven people require a blood transfusion every 10 minutes amid a shortage of supply with only 16 per cent of the blood needed in the country collected in 2019.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has widened the gap between blood supply and blood demand while worsening the blood shortage situation specifically a stark decrease in blood donations due to fears of infection at donation centres, cancelled blood donation drives and lockdown restrictions.

Furthermore, the KNBTS is only authorized to deliver blood to regional satellite blood transfusion centres and afterwards, it is the responsibility of county governments to deliver the much-needed blood to health facilities which becomes difficult due to strained financial resources.

The current model of blood donation processes has grossly strained the availability of blood is strained and the model is compounded by inadequate structures to support the blood management services value chain including last-mile deliveries to the health facilities.

Subsequently, Amref, Kenya’s Ministry of Health and KNBTS have partnered to introduce highly innovative health system strengthening solutions that are available, cost-effective, sustainable and scalable in line with the ambitious universal health coverage aspiration.

Amref outlines that the attainment of UHC requires solutions that can be immediately deployed to bridge the huge gap in the blood ecosystem, noting that it’s imperative to invest in the whole blood transfusion and management value chain including blood donation, storage, testing and distribution.

The non-profit-organization proposed that cold chain systems ensure safe storage and ferrying of blood from its collection point to its final transfusion into a patient, adding that whole blood is warm on collection but must be chilled to 4°C and kept at this temperature until transfusion.

Amref further stressed that the blood to be transfused must be safe for administration to patients while pointing out that the blood should be free from disease pathogens such as hepatitis B and C viruses, HIV and syphilis.

In addition, Amref emphasized that it is critical to invest and build capacity in quality laboratory testing systems in Kenyan counties with capabilities for blood typing, compatibility testing and diagnostic testing for infectious diseases.

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