The chronic problem of blood scarcity in upcountry health centers across Uganda is casting a dark shadow over maternal health, leading to heartbreaking maternal deaths.
The desperate shortage of blood has prompted passionate appeals to local residents to donate blood and help preserve lives.
However, even the collected blood remains under constant strain due to rising demand.
Health professionals in these facilities are sounding the alarm, calling for the government to establish a sustainable solution to this pressing issue.
In Katakwi district, a heart-wrenching tragedy recently unfolded as a mother lost her life due to excessive bleeding resulting from a ruptured uterus.
This tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of 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, intensifying the strain on the facility.
The situation is equally distressing in Kachumbala Health Centre III, where authorities have confirmed that 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 that has been plaguing healthcare facilities in the Teso sub-region.
Dr. Ahamed Bumba, the manager of the Mbale regional blood bank, has noted a significant surge in blood demand when schools close for holidays.
He emphasizes that it’s disheartening to see some health facilities attributing maternal deaths to blood shortages without thorough investigation.
Health experts stress the importance of providing comprehensive care to mothers from the start of their pregnancies. Timely access to blood is a critical factor in preventing maternal deaths associated with complications like hemorrhaging.
In Soroti district, a child recently lost their life due to the unavailability of blood, further underscoring the devastating consequences of this issue.
Sarah Alamai, a resident of Odugura Parish in Olio Sub, Serere district, shared her story of caring for an orphan whose mother tragically passed away at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital after an operation.
Uganda’s annual requirement for safe blood is approximately 400,000 units, while the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services typically collects only 300,000 units.
In critical cases, blood shortages have led to the cancellation of hospital operations and the prioritization of cases, leaving many vulnerable to severe health risks.
The urgency of addressing the blood scarcity issue in upcountry health centers cannot be overstated. It’s a matter of life and death, necessitating collaborative efforts among health authorities, policymakers, and communities to find lasting solutions, particularly for maternal health services, and ultimately save lives.