Blood shortage has paralysed operations at Kapchorwa main hospital forcing health workers to suspend some treatments that require blood transfusion.
The district health officer, Dr Siraji Masai, on Tuesday told Daily Monitor that the hospital has been operating without blood for one week.
“It is very true that at the moment we have no blood since last week and yet the number of patients who need blood transfusion keeps increasing every day. This has put us in a very difficult situation,” Dr Masai said.
He said the hospital has decided to refer patients who need blood to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, adding that children with severe malaria, accident victims and pregnant women are the most affected.
Dr Masai added that the hospital receives only 12 to 13 units of blood on a weekly basis from Mbale regional blood bank, which he said is not enough considering the big number of patients they receive.
“The units of blood that we receive can only be adequate for Kapchorwa District but we serve the neighbouring districts because this is the only hospital in Sebei sub-region,” he said.
Dr Masai, however, said they will soon start a campaign on blood donation across the sub-region.
“Although we need to sensitise people more on donating blood, it is important that the blood bank increases the units of blood supplied to the hospital,” he said.
The district health officer also said they find challenges in refering patients to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital because the ambulance broke down two years ago.
“The ambulance has been down for some time. It is very old and was given to us in 2010, so our people use pick-up trucks, which puts their lives at risk. We appeal to government to buy for us a new ambulance,” Dr Masai said.
One of the health workers at the hospital, who preferred anonymity to speak freely, said they are receiving severe cases that need operation and blood transfusion but they are referred to Mbale.
Mr William Cheptoek, who is currently nursing his cousin, who is anaemic, said he has been at the hospital for the last four days waiting for blood in vain.
“We came here on Friday, last week. We spoke to the doctors and they promised us that blood was being brought. The only option left is to travel to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, which is usually expensive for us,” Mr Cheptoek said.
Mr George Kiprotich, the executive officer at Kapchorwa Civil Social Organisation Alliance, said government should elevate the hospital to a regional referral status.
“If the hospital is elevated to a referral status, it would give it an opportunity to have a blood bank,” he said.
However, one of the officials from the Mbale regional blood bank, who requested to remain anonymous, said they were not aware of any blood shortage. “There is no need for alarm. We have blood here and even now our people are in the field to bring more blood,” the source said.