Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe’s claim that blood donations are being illegally exported to Somalia is grave. Worse, those perpetrating this illegal practice are the Ministry of Health officials working in cahoots with counterparts at the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Services (KNBTS).
This revelation, coming at a time that many patients in Kenyan hospitals have made appeals for blood on social media, is disturbing. It shows the low levels to which the canker of corruption has driven this country. It is unacceptable that individuals charged with ensuring the good health of Kenyans are driven by the pursuit of illegally acquired profits, even if it means Kenyan patients die from lack of blood in the process.
More revelations that services at KNBTS have ground to a halt because machines used to screen blood for HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis B are not working are equally disturbing. The situation is made worse by the lack of reagents used in screening blood. KNBTS has therefore resorted to sending blood samples to Kisumu and Eldoret regional centers where testing machines are still functional, but lack the capacity to match the country’s demand.
Indeed, if the unscrupulous Ministry of Health officials can find blood to export, it means we have stocks, but the blood cannot be used without being screened to guarantee its safety. This sad state of affairs followed the withdrawal of funding by the US President’s Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) in September last year.