Messy Uganda Blood Transfusion Requires Reorganisation

Rot at Uganda Blood Transfusion Services and why the Executive Director is the cause of the mess

By Muhimbise George

Last week, Agnes Akwi, the district woman councilor for Katakwi Town Council & Katakwi Sub County in the Katakwi district council died in Katakwi General Hospital due to shortage of blood at a young age of 35.

This has been the trend in many of our health facilities in the country, a problem unfortunately that nobody talks about. Similar deaths happen to many mothers daily and it is on record.

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It’s those that have lost their loved ones due to shortage of blood who may understand what am talking about

Surprisingly, government does not buy blood from anywhere but rather it’s patriotic Ugandans who donate it freely.

The government created an agency called Uganda Blood Transfusion Services to collect, test, store and distribute blood to the health facilities. Currently this institution parts with over 30 billion annually to do this noble job.

But why do people die due to lack of blood or its components? Who is sleeping on job? Today I unleash the rot at this entity as a whistle blower and the rest is about the powers that be to take action or Ugandans to take matters in their hands.

Certainly there will be a time when Ugandans will be forced to force leaders or public servants out of their Offices in public interest, time for taking us for granted is coming to an end.

The investigations I carried out indicate that there is deliberate efforts by mafias led by the Executive Director Dr Dorothy Kyeyune to fail this body. The purpose is to create a crisis and justify need for more funding.

For example according to World Health Organisation, any country’s blood bank is supposed to collect blood units’ equivalent to 1% of its population, this is an assumption that out of every 100 people, one person may require blood at a certain point in time.

With a population of about 45 million people, we are supposed to be collecting 450,000 units of blood per year to be able to meet the expected demand. Unfortunately the maximum target of UBTS currently stands at 300,000 units which is about 75% of the required standard. It’s obvious that even the 300,000 units target has never been met by the organ. So it’s deliberate to set a small target and not achieve it and then create a crisis.

Currently we have only 7 blood banks in the country i.e; Kitovu, Mbarara, Mbale, Gulu, Arua, Nakasero and Fortportal. Blood in Hoima (Bunyoro) and Jinja (Busoga) is collected and transported to Nakasero- Kampala for testing which takes many days making it hard for people in those regions to access blood whenever they need it.

Why can’t government provide functional blood banks in Kigezi, Busoga, Bukedi,Kalamoja, Lango, Teso and Hoima? Imagine a patient in Buliisa waiting to be saved by blood from Nakasero because Hoima regional referral hospital is unable to do the job? Imagine a patient in Kisoro on a boarder to Rwanda or DRC waiting to be saved by blood from Mbarara? All these are structural problems that have been deliberately ignored.

There area also performances issues at UBTS, in 2020, Mbale regional referral Hospital collected 39,600 units of blood. The budget of Mbale was 720 million. This means that with a Budget of 7billion (ten times Mbale Budget) we can collect about 400,000 units of blood, but you can imagine with a budget of over 30bn, UBTS collectables on average 260,000 units! That shows incompetence and theft at the head quarter.

My other investigation revealed that there is deliberate effort by the UBTS not to recruit staff in order to create a paralysis. Take an example, according to the staff structure; by 2019/20, UBTS was supposed to have 16 Blood donor recruiters but they had zero, they were supposed to have 23 senior nursing officers but they had one, they were supposed to have 37 nursing officers but they had zero, out of 6 receptionist they had zero, out of 10 account’s assistants they had six.

Imagine this is an agency that is 18 years old having been formed in 2003! It’s such glaring incompetence that has led to shortage of blood.

The Executive director Dr Dorothy Kyeyune herself has been rumored illegally been in office more than once in the last six years after her mandatory retirement.

This year when adverts were run for her job, before the process was complete Minister Dr Acheng appointed one of the senior managers in acting capacity to fill the position, since Dr Dorothy had no official contract. It is reported, when the appointee came to be given instruments of power, Dr Dorothy refused to vacate office saying that the President had extended her term of office for more two years. This was not known by the appointing authority.

The information I have is that neither Dr Diana the Permanent Secretary nor the Ministers were privy to the extension of the contract. It is alleged or suspected that some mafias forged President Museveni’s letter that kept her in office.

And because the President is found of issuing unlawful orders, the Ministry of Health and Health Service Commission officials could not challenge the act, although there exists lots of disagreements between the two entities.

My investigations reveal that the mafias have kept her in office because they use her office to steal money. I’m yet to establish why the promised construction of two Regional Blood Banks have not taken base in Arua and Soroti regional referral hospitals.

Most surprising is that unlike all other government agencies, UBTS has no governing body like Board of Directors. The absence of a Board gives management an opportunity to swindle money without any supervision.

The Auditors from Auditor General’s office am told have turned UBTS as their side income project. They don’t even go to the field to verify anything, they just seat at the headquarters in Nakasero where they share the loot with the management at UBTS.

This whole system must be checked and exposed.

Muhimbise George, muhimbiseg@gmail.com, 0787836515

The author is a Patriotic Ugandan

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