A proposed Bill seeking to commercialise blood transfusion in the country continues to gain opposition with medical laboratory officers next to criticize it.
The Bill – Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service Bill, 2019 – sponsored by Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, seeks to have a body formed to independently source for funds as well as mobilise for blood donations.
The agency will be the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service Bill which will comprise of the Kenya National Blood Centre, the National Quality and Reference Testing Laboratory, the Regional Blood Transfusion Centres and satellites established by Ministry of Health.
However, Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers (KNUMLO) said it is opposed to the Bill becoming a law as it will lead to compromising blood safety standards in the country.
The Union’s Secretary General Enock Wanyonyi said passage of such a Bill, which proposes blood transfusion process be transferred from the medical laboratory department to physicians and pharmacists, will lead to watering down existing stringent testing requirements and universal best practices.
Mr Wanyonyi pointed out that the Bill does not talk of medical laboratory officers, yet they are the backbone of blood transfusion.
He explained that blood transfusion process is supposed to be 97 percent laboratory-based starting from donor mobilization and identification, blood collection, blood storage and screening for sexually transmitted diseases, compatibility testing with recipients’ blood and the final phase of actual transfusion to recipients.
He said therefore, all the above phases should be handled by a qualified medical laboratory professional, save for the last one handled by physicians and nurses, failure to which recipients might be exposed to Transfusion Transmissible Infections (TTIs) such as HIV, hepatitis B and C virus, Treponema pallidum (syphilis), among others.
“We are telling the lawmakers to make legislation which are in the interest of Kenyans and not to benefit a few individuals. This Bill is only meant to commercialise blood transfusion to benefit some people, said Mr Wanyonyi.
“If the Bill sails through Parliament, it will have far reaching effects for Kenyans as the departure from the transfusion process as envisaged by the Bill will just lead to the compromising of blood safety and best practices,” he added.
Ms Chege, who is also National Assembly Health committee chairperson, had said that the Bill would end blood crisis in the country which poses a threat to thousands of patients requiring transfusion.
Data from Ministry of Health indicates that about 450,000 pints of blood are required annually but only 185,000 pints are collected creating a deficit of 265,000 pints.
However, Mr Wanyonyi said that most blood shortages in the country are artificial saying: “Recently you heard of blood shortage in Nyanza. This was man-made.”
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