Uganda launches blood donation drive to address pandemic-induced scarcity

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Moses Kyalimpa, 32, has been donating blood for over 10 years. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March last year, followed by government-imposed restrictions to stop the spread, Kyalimpa could not continue with his commitment.

“I have been donating blood since 2008 and every year I would donate blood twice. But last year I could not access any donation center due to the pandemic,” Kyalimpa told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Many blood donors in the country, just like Kyalimpa, have not been able to donate blood, causing supply shortages to the health facilities across the country.

Students, who are the largest group of blood donors in the country, remain home as schools have since been closed due to the pandemic.

As the pandemic infections reduce, and government eases on the lockdown restrictions, agencies are mobilizing donors in efforts to close the supply gap.

When the three-week blood donation drive was started Monday in the capital of Kampala, Kyalimpa was among the first people to heed the call.

“I am a nurse so I know the importance of donating blood especially when people get into accidents,” he said shortly after donating blood at Lubaga Cathedral compound Monday.

At the donation center, people kept social distancing and other standard procedures to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.

Irene Nakasiita, Uganda Red Cross Society spokesperson, said the blood donation drive is geared at mobilizing people countrywide in order to sustain the blood bank.

Nakasiita said they target to collect 10,000 units of blood per collection point. “Before the pandemic, we used to collect around 800 units at collection points, but it had now reduced to 500 units per collection point,” she said.

Nakasiita said they aim to mobilize 10 percent of the country’s total population for the drive, adding that agency has embarked on outreach initiatives to mobilize communities to voluntarily donate blood.

As education institutions are set to reopen, health authorities are optimistic that blood donation will increase and close the supply shortage.

“I would like to mobilize students to come here and donate blood because it’s vital for our life,” said Gift Ndagire, a student who had just donated blood. Enditem

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