MTN Uganda Foundation yesterday officially handed over blood storage equipment to the Arua Regional Blood Bank under the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS).
This is in a bid to address the issue of blood shortage born from inadequate blood storage facilities.
The Arua Regional Blood Bank serves 3.38 million people including 815,000 from South Sudan living in the 9 districts of West Nile.
However, the facility is faced with a challenge of blood storage.
To alleviate this challenge, a state-of-the-art blood refrigerator was handed over to Dr. Joyce Moriku, the State Minister for Primary Health Care in a ceremony held at the regional blood bank in Arua district.
Even when the blood is collected, proper storage of the blood remains a challenge in many facilities.
Statistics from World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that Uganda has an annual demand of about 340,000 units of blood but falls short by over 100,000 units.
Last year, only 240,000 units were collected against the country’s target of 340,000 units.
As a result, MTN Uganda committed to step in, investing Shs 347 million shillings to procure equipment that includes; an automated plasma extractor and three refrigerators.
This year, the Uganda Blood Bank is aiming to collect 300,000 units of blood.
While the automated plasma extractor is stationed at the Nakasero Blood Bank, the blood storage refrigerators have been delivered to each of the three respective regional blood banks.
Arua is the third regional blood bank to receive its equipment after Mbarara which received theirs early last month on the 3rd October 2019 and Mbale Regional blood bank received their refrigerator early this month.
While handing over the equipment, Bryan Mbasa, the acting Senior Manager, MTN Foundation, reiterated that MTN Uganda is committed to supporting Uganda’s goal of meeting the Global Sustainable Development Goal No. 3 which aims at ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all, at all ages.
“We are proud of this partnership with the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services and Ministry of Health in ensuring that Ugandans have access to enough blood and blood components across the country,” Mr. Mbasa said.
While receiving the equipment, Moriku thanked the MTN Foundation for working together with the government for the good of the people of Uganda.
“Thank you MTN Foundation Uganda for this equipment. It will address the blood shortage issues that arise from lack of adequate storage of donated blood to save lives,” Moriku said.
Dr. Grace Otekat, the Principal Technologist in charge of all the regional blood bank laboratories in the country noted that by supporting the facility with an additional blood bank, the MTN Foundation has saved them daily trips to Kuluva hospital every day to store and collect blood.
“Blood is a very delicate substance which without proper storage, becomes poisonous to the body. So because of our limited storage capacity, we used to store some of our blood at Kuluva hospital, a private facility about 9kms outside Arua Town.
A number of times, the blood got destroyed due to these movements,” Otekat said.
The MTN Foundation has cut its niche in supporting government health initiatives:
In September this year, the MTN Foundation in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Health briefed the country on the progress of plans to implement maternal health improvement projects to a tune of Shs 1.33 billion.
Of that money, Shs 600 million was collected from the 2018 MTN Kampala Marathon and regional runs, and the top up raised by MTN Foundation in commemoration of MTN Uganda’s 20th anniversary celebration.