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We’re in big trouble! MPs demand action on rampant blood shortages

State Minister for Health Sarah Opendi donating blood at the launch of the blood donation drive recently (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – Members of Parliament have called on government to find lasting solutions to the rampant blood shortages in the country. During the plenary sitting on Thursday, September 5, 2019, legislators reported that their constituents are facing challenges travelling long distances to access blood, which in most cases is in short supply.

“In Pakwach, we do not have a general hospital and so my people walk all the way to Arua district to access blood, which I am also told is in shortage,” Hon Avur Jane Pacuto said.

Pacuto was equally concerned that Pakwach district lacks an ambulance that would otherwise ease access to blood from Arua Hospital. She said that “If the government does not come quickly to address blood shortage in my district, the number of deaths will be worrisome”.

Aruu County MP, Hon Odonga Otto, said that private facilities are selling blood to patients saying that it could partly explain why there are blood shortages.

“In some hospitals in Kampala, you pay shs3 million to get blood; it is sad that people are giving blood freely but hospitals attach a cost to it,” Otto said.

Odonga Otto asked the Ministry of Health to update Parliament on the state of bloodstock in the country and to reprimand health facilities engaged in selling blood.

On ambulances, Opendi told Parliament that the health ministry has come up with an ambulance policy and is awaiting consideration by Cabinet.

Opendi added that the ambulance network would operate just like the Uber taxi system where patients can be directed to a nearby ambulance.

“We propose to have stand-alone ambulances away from health facilities so that if there is any need, somebody makes a call and the call centre detects a nearby ambulance just like how Uber operates,” Opendi explained.

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