Former students of St Mary’s Secondary School Kitende (SMASK), have come together in a blood donation drive to save lives in a campaign under the hash tag, #smaskrevolutionblooddonationdrive.
The drive will happen at Ntinda Market on Stretcher Road, Ntinda, a Kampala suburb on Friday March 30.
According to organiser Ms Ramlah Tarsha Twinomugisha, the event was inspired by recent revelations of a critical shortage of blood that is affecting services and putting patients’ lives at risk in health centres and hospitals across the country.
Media reports earlier this year indicated that the health ministry’s blood bank facility in Nakasero, Kampala, which stores and distributes supplies to hospitals, is practically empty. At that time Nakasero Blood Bank had just 150 units of blood remaining, not enough to meet requirements on an average day in the city.
The country needs at least 340,000 units of safe blood annually, but usually only collects 200,000 a year.
A six-day countrywide blood collection drive was launched by the ministry on Monday, January 15.
The Uganda Medical Association, an umbrella organisation of doctors in public health facilities, said the shortage was “almost at crisis level”, resulting in the cancellation of hospital operations and prioritisation of cases.
Mukuzi Muhereza, the association’s secretary-general, said then: “It’s a big, nationwide problem. It’s emergency level, a crisis. Nearly every hospital is crying [out] for blood. Nearly every regional referral hospital is complaining about blood.”
State minister for health Sarah Opendi said an extra Shs7 billion needed to procure donor and testing kits, and to fund blood donation drives, to get the service back on track for the next six months, had been requested from government.
“The Smask Revolution (2002-2007) have decided to do a blood donation drive as a way of appreciating the women, great teachers and also mothers of the world,” Ms Twinomugisha told PML Daily. She quoted famous tennis player Serena William who said: “The success of every woman should be an inspiration to another. We ought to raise each other up, be courageous, strong, extremely kind and above all be humble.” calling on Ugandans to join in the campaign and donate blood.