Government to prosecute health workers who sell blood.

The Government of Uganda has warned all health workers who sell blood to patients that they will be arrested and prosecuted.

The Government of Uganda has warned all health workers who sell blood to patients that they will be arrested and prosecuted.

Permanent Secretary Dr Asuman Lukwago said, “We have heard several reports where patients re complaining that they have to pay money to a health worker in order to have a unit of blood, this is corruption, blood is a free gift that must be given freely to a person in need.

“It is illegal to sell blood and the government is aware of health workers who do it within the corridors of some health centers in the country,” he added.

This warning was given at the inauguration of Uganda Transfusion Services administration and state of the art laboratory block. The project was funded by Center for Diseases Control and Prevention under Uganda –US cooperation to improve safety in Uganda and is valued at $39 million.

He said all blood must be collected, processed and supplied by authorized agencies such as the Uganda Red Cross to public health units.

“We do not have any private players in this service, Uganda Red Cross only collects blood on behalf of UBTS under close supervision. Blood transfusion is a complex service that if not well handled by professionals can become a source of infections. That’s why we only allow up to Health Centre IV to handle blood because at least these have a full time doctor, a theatre and blood storage facilities”, Dr. Lukwago added.

The country has seven blood banks and six blood collection centers. The Uganda blood Transfusion Service report of 2011 shows an estimated 200,000 units of blood are needed every year but last year alone 202,939 units were collected showing a tremendous increase of donors compared to 106,996 units in 2004.

“We are making improvements, 58 per cent of the donors are regular. Blood supplied to hospitals is tested for HIV, hepatitis B,C and syphilis”, says Dr. Lukwago.

Uganda Blood Transfusion Service operates through a network of seven regional blood banks in Arua, Fort- portal, Gulu, Kitovu, Mbale, Mbarar, and Nakasero to main branch. These centers are supported by six collection centers in Hoima, Masaka, Kabale, Rukungiri, Jinja and Soroti districts.

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