Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Blood crisis hits Govt hospitals

Scores of patients across Botswana are feared to have lost their lives following government’s halting of blood transfusion at all government health facilities.
Many people, especially students, continue to generously donate blood to the Botswana National Blood Transfusion Centre, but their gesture may prove futile as the donated blood is collected and stored at the centre without reaching the intended beneficiaries.
The only two centres that serve the entire country, Gaborone and Francistown, are reported to have run out of HIV testing kits for several weeks now.
This makes it impossible to distribute the donated blood to hospitals and clinics across the country. Before it can be transfused on patients, the blood has to be tested for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis A and B.
This week, workers at both the National Blood Transfusion Centre and Princess Marina hospital poured out their frustrations over the non-availability of ready-for-transfusion blood.
Workers at the centre who spoke on condition of anonymity said they had gone for three weeks now without the test kits while orders from hospitals and clinics across the country were overwhelming them.
The Central Medical Stores, which is supposed to supply health facilities across the country, has also run dry.
Three teams are currently touring the country to collect blood from donors. Workers say it is demoralising to harvest blood from donors when it doesn’t benefit patients at hospitals.
Just this week, the centre had to hastily outsource HIV testing services to a private company, Diagnofirm, in order to address an emergency at Scottish Livingstone hospital.
Even then, the blood was not enough to address the demand from other hospitals and clinics across the country.
Princess Marina hospital is said to use 30 pints per day. A pint has 500 ml made up of blood and granulates.
A nurse at Marina confirmed that they have serious shortage of blood at the hospital.
She said nowadays they just refer people to the blood centre because the centre is failing to supply them with blood.
Efforts to seek clarification from Central Medical Stores hit a snag. The procurement office at CMS also said only public relations officer could shed light on the issue.
Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Health, Golaatang Malefo, said he could only respond after contacting his staff at the centre. Meanwhile, the assistant minister of Health, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, said he has not been made aware of the situation but said maybe it was reported to his office while he was away in Angola.


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