ARUA. District hospitals and health center IVs have been blamed for failing to prioritize the availability of safe blood in their units by ignoring to transport it.

Uganda Blood Transfusion Service (UBTS) country director, Dr Dorothy Kyeyune said, as a result, they are finalizing plans to see blood transported to lower health units.

“There is blood available in the regional banks but the challenge is many of them (hospitals and health centre IVs) don’t take blood as a priority and hence they don’t want to incur costs to transport blood to their units,” Kyeyune said.

She was speaking at the commissioning of equipment at the regional blood bank in Arua over the weekend.

The regional blood bank hitherto the commissioning of the equipment had been running without major operations including blood testing crippled with storage challenges, poor conditioned vehicles and refrigeration.

Dr Isaac Atiku, the principal medical officer for the regional blood bank said his area requires about 35,000 units of blood annually to serve a population of more than 3.5 million people.

The regional bank, one in seven across the country also supplies seven hospitals, five health centre IVs and three private units.

Speaking on behalf of Arua regional referral hospital director, Dr Gilbert Aniku said blood transfusion is a key complement to the provision of medical services.

“In the last two years, we were hit very hard because the maternity ward, the medical ward with a number of trauma and hepatitis B patients needed a lot of blood since their management has no substitutes”, Aniku said.

He appealed to the transfusion service to urgently consider expanding their current scope premised on the plans that cancer and heart institutes, two departments that require a lot of blood want to establish regional centres in Arua.

While presiding over the commissioning ceremony, Dr Jackson Amone, the commissioner clinical services at the ministry of health rallied the public to donate more blood because it can only be available through donation.

Dr Amone 20 05 19A staff member stands next to the newly donated I-1000 machines. PHOTO BY RIMILIAH AMANDU.

“As you donate blood, one needs to talk about safe blood, because the donation is only one thing that’s why we are happy that the testing equipment is now in place to avoid transmitting infections like HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis and many others,”, Amone said.

He acknowledged the need to put up an independent blood bank facility in Arua to serve the needs of the region’s people and the refugee community that relies on the same services.

Arua blood bank depends heavily on the support of the referral hospital. Land allocated for a separate facility within the hospital still lies idle largely due to lack of funds.

The commissioned equipment was donated by Italian Aid partner doctors with Africa (CUAM) with support from UNICEF.

Mr Sabo Kamilo, the Arua district secretary for finance and planning who represented the Arua district chairman questioned why the ministry of health cannot fully fund the blood transfusion service like other bodies.

“If you can give money to National Medical Stores (NMS), why not to blood bank which has to only survive on donor support? Can medicines work if there is no blood in the body?” Sabo asked.

He was reacting to an earlier submission that the blood collection centre in Nebbi, one of the two in the region only survives on the services of volunteers due to lack of funds.