The Minister for Health, Dr. Jane Aceng (pictured) has warned both private and government health facilities against selling donated blood to patients, reiterating that Government declared blood free of charge in the country.
The Minister was responding to questions raised by Aruu County MP, Odonga Otto tasking the Ministry to explain why health facilities around the country are selling donated blood to unsuspecting patients.
Aceng said that the Ministry isn’t in position to deny the allegations because the process of blood collection and supply still requires refinement and digitization for better tracking and accountability.
The Minister affirmed that Government policy stipulates that blood issued to both Government and private hospitals must be given FREE to patients in need of blood and anyone found selling it to patients is liable to prosecution in the courts of law.
In a statement issued to Parliament yesterday, Aceng called on Ugandans to furnish the Ministry with proof of being charged for blood, stating that it is possible that some health workers may demand for payment for blood.
The Minister added that while blood itself is free, private hospitals do charge for processes that must be carried out before the transfusion that includes grouping and cross matching to establish the patient’s blood group and hence the correct blood for transfusion.
The Minister noted that patients are likely to be charged for blood because the service comes with other consumables like cotton, gauze, disinfectants, cannulas and sterile supplies. She added that some public hospitals may also request patients to buy these items in the event that stocks run out.
Aceng said there’s blood shortage across the country which she attributed to the failure to collect blood from Regional Blood banks by many health care facilities due to Transport budgetary constraints.
She added that most of the health care facilities are unaware of their weekly, monthly, yearly blood requirements which greatly hinder the planning process by Uganda Blood Transfusion Services and in incidences where health facilities make orders for more blood, this leads to blood expiring in their facilities.
Aceng said the Ministry of Health is set to develop a digitalized system of tracking blood from collection point to the beneficiary, saying this will help give better statistics on blood consumption and wastage in the country.
The national blood demand is estimated at 400,000 units of blood annually, but Uganda Blood Transfusion Services is only in position to collect 300,000 of blood per year which translates into 85% hospital blood demands.