Kenya probes smuggling of blood to Somalia

Rhoda Odhiambo

Kenya’s health ministry has said an investigation is underway into allegations that blood donated by Kenyans is being smuggled to Somalia.

The ongoing investigation has linked a government agency to the illegal sale of blood.

Officials working in the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) are being investigated.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said a number of arrests were expected.

Kenya has faced problems of blood shortages for a long time but this announcement has shocked people throughout the country.

It’s also the first time that Kenya’s government has openly admitted that the country’s system of collecting and screening blood is insufficient.

KNBTS had been fully funded by the US government for the last 15 years – but this funding came to an end last year.

The country has struggled to keep its blood stocks at a sufficient level, partly blamed on with withdrawal of this funding, but also due to Kenya not having a strong blood-donating culture.

Last year the country had the target of collecting 500,000 units of blood but less than a quarter of this figure was donated.

Mr Kagwe said a bill that is yet to be passed in parliament will help in giving the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service autonomy in handling matters related to the collection and screening of blood as there is no legislation currently in place.


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