The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) in partnership with Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS) under the Ministry of Health have today kicked off the six-day Annual NSSF Blood Donation Drive aimed at collecting 4,500 units of blood in response to a nationwide appeal for safe blood.
The drive will take place from 8th to 13th January at Workers House, Constitutional Square, Queens Way –Katwe, Mukwano Arcade, and NSSF Kampala branches in Kireka, Mukono, Kawempe, Bakuli, Bugolobi and Entebbe. Outside Kampala, the drive will take place in major regional towns of Mbale, Mbarara, Gulu ,Arua, Fort Portal, Jinja, Mukono ,Kabale, Masaka as well as NSSF branches in the respective towns.
Addressing media at the launch of the drive at Constitutional Square, Richard Byarugaba, NSSF Managing Director, said, “Through this drive, we would like to sensitize communities where we will be, about blood donation and its benefits to help us raise our target of 4,500 units, ultimately increasing the number of blood donors countrywide.”
According to World Health Organization, (WHO), Uganda needs about 340,000 units of blood annually although less than 200,000 units are collected annually. It should be noted that only 1% of Uganda’s population that is eligible to donate blood regularly do so, causing blood shortages.
Dr. Dorothy Kyeyune Byabazaire, the Executive Director at UBTS said that the lowest collections were experienced in Fortportal, Kabarle, Mbarara and sections of Mbale, despite large populations in these towns.The low collections in these areas could be attributed to low awareness of blood donation and cultural myths about it,” she said.
“The demand was highest in the central region because of the numerous health centers that receive referrals. The highest demand for blood is usually from expectant mothers, cancer patients, HIV Positive patients, accident victims, among others. To help us close the shortage, we take up partnerships with organizations like NSSF to boost the blood collections. ” She added.
Through NSSF’s partnership with UBTS in the last six years, over 9,420 units of blood have been collected to-date.
“This year, we are positive that the collections will increase further having gotten another partner on board, Equity Bank, for the cause,” Byarugaba said. This initiative is part of Fund’s Social Responsibility agenda which is premised on supporting vulnerable members of the community as well as improving their social wellbeing.
To donate blood, a donor needs to be between the ages of 17 and 65 years, weigh above 45 kgs and must not be on medication.