Blood Scarcity in Rural Health Centers Imperils Maternal Health

Chronic blood scarcity in Uganda’s upcountry health centers is gravely impacting maternal health, resulting in tragic maternal fatalities. Despite appeals for local residents to donate blood and alleviate the crisis, the collected blood remains under constant strain due to the growing demand.

Healthcare professionals are imploring the government to establish a sustainable solution to this pressing issue. A heart-wrenching incident in Katakwi district recently unfolded as a mother lost her life due to excessive bleeding from a ruptured uterus, vividly illustrating the dire consequences of blood shortages within the healthcare system.

Reports indicate that at least five other mothers had to be referred to Soroti Regional Referral Hospital due to the unavailability of blood, further straining the facility. The situation is equally concerning in Kachumbala Health Centre III, where three mothers recently lost their lives due to post-delivery bleeding complications and delays.

These maternal fatalities underscore the urgent need to address the blood supply crisis plaguing healthcare facilities in the Teso sub-region. Dr. Ahamed Bumba, the manager of the Mbale regional blood bank, notes a substantial surge in blood demand during school holidays and emphasizes the importance of thorough investigations into maternal deaths attributed to blood shortages.

Health experts stress the significance of comprehensive care for mothers from the beginning of their pregnancies, highlighting the timely access to blood to prevent maternal deaths associated with complications like hemorrhaging. In Soroti district, a child lost their life due to the unavailability of blood, further emphasizing the devastating consequences of this issue.

The account of Sarah Alamai, a resident of Odugura Parish in Olio Sub in Serere district, reflects the challenges of caring for an orphan whose mother tragically passed away at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital after an operation.

Uganda’s annual demand for safe blood stands at around 400,000 units, while the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services typically collects only 300,000 units. In critical cases, the blood shortage leads to the cancellation of hospital operations and the prioritization of cases, exposing many to severe health risks.

Addressing this urgent blood scarcity issue in upcountry health centers is a matter of life and death. Health authorities, policymakers, and communities must collaborate to find lasting solutions, ensuring access to adequate blood supplies, particularly for maternal health services, and ultimately saving lives.

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ISMA TUKAMUHABWA
ISMA TUKAMUHABWA
The Black Examiner Correspodent in Kagadi, Hoima and Central