DCI moves in to dismantle cartel selling blood donated by Kenyans to Somali

Blood pints. [Photo courtesy]

Days after the crisis that is blood shortage in Kenyan hospitals was highlighted, the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) has swung into action.

Details by the DCI indicate that the blood shortage is ‘artificial’ and is linked to a racket consisting of officials from the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS).

The officials according to the DCI are part of the cartel selling the blood to neighbouring Somalia once it is donated by Kenyans.

In a letter by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe sent to DCI Boss George Kinoti dated March 6, the CS decried the presence of a cartel siphoning blood to Somalia.

“The Ministry is aware that there are criminal elements both within and outside the country who are colluding with outsiders to escalate the problems pertaining to blood countrywide,” said Kagwe as reported by Citizen TV.

Kagwe added that: “These cartels have been engaged in blood trade within as well as outside the country for selfish gain without any regard to women and children who are dying in hospitals as a result of this shortage.”

Mr Kagwe said that the ministry is putting in place measures to address the problem through a legal framework to oversee the donation of blood, processing and its distribution.

In the Bill, the CS added, there will be the establishment of an ICT system to track the movement of blood from the blood bank to the recipient.

Pregnant mothers, accident victims and cancer patients are the hardest hit by this.

Across regional blood transfusion centres in Kisumu, Mombasa, Kenyatta National Hospital and Embu, there were no reagents to screen blood and there were no storage bags for the donated blood which explains the root cause of the shortage.

KNBTS cited that the withdrawal of funding by the US government’s PEFAR programme dealt a major blow into its operations.

Going by guidelines by the World Health Organization, a country should have a proportional number of donors to that of its population to avert a crisis meaning Kenya should collect one million units of blood in a year.

Statistics show that Kenya had 164, 000 units of blood in 2018 against a target of 500,000.