VIDEO: UBTS blames blood shortage on lack of reagents

Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS) has blamed the current blood shortage on inability to test the blood donated by the public. UBTS currently has 30,000 units of unscreened blood donated countrywide.

Most affected are the national referral hospitals, acute units in Mulago hospital, Kawempe hospital for the pregnant mothers and the Cancer patients.

UBTS Executive Director Dr Dorothy Kyeyune Byabazaire explained that the organisation does not have the necessary reagents to test the blood. Blood is tested to ensure that it is free of disease before it is passed onto hospitals that use it when a patient needs a blood transfusion.

Dr Byabazaire said that UBTS is stuck without reagents because the government failed to indicate to the National Medical Stores (NMS) that it would pay for them, if supplied on credit. NMS could not then approach the suppliers for reagents on credit.

She went on to explain that they need about 39.2 billion shillings to screen 300,000 needed units of blood to last the country the whole year. Each unit of blood is screened $29 (about 107,300 shillings).

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija wrote a commital letter to NMS requesting for supplies of reagents worth 10billion shillings on credit bringing the total 22.89 billion shillings of the required 39.2 billion shillings. The letter is dated Tuesday, January 22, 2019.

The supplier is Star Pharmaceuticals on behalf of Abbot who confirmed receiving the Finance minister's letter. Star Pharmaceuticals has in the interim sent a batch that can last the Uganda a week.

The country has just emerged from a blood donation drive spearheaded by NSSF across the country. That blood is sitting idle and may go to waste if UBTS is not able to get reagents to test the blood and pass it onto hospitals.

More details to follow as we receive them.

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