Shock as report shows contaminated blood in Kenya’s blood bank

Blood transfusion []

A red flag has been raised after reports that Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) blood bank is contaminated by HIV and Syphilis.

The report was first published by a foreign Journal three weeks ago.

The report published in the Journal of Blood Disorders and Transfusion of India indicated that 6.2 per cent of donated blood had high levels of HIV, reports the Standard.

Further, it indicated that in some counties, the HIV percentage in the donated blood was as high as 15 per cent.

In an analysis of blood sample collected from 32 of the 47 counties last year, it was also established that other than HIV and Syphilis, the donated blood was contaminated with syphilis.

But KNBTS director Dr. Margaret Oduor in response to an enquiry on the matter termed the report “alarmist and sensational”.

“This research was not sanctioned by KNBTS and therefore we disown the content of the article in its entirety,” she told the Standard.

She said the authors of the report could have other interest for publishing the misleading report. “It is possible the authors of the report have other interests unknown to us.”

According to Dr Odour, only 0.5 per cent of blood collected annually is contaminated with HIV while just 0.4 of the blood collected annually is contaminated with syphilis.

The KNBTS director added they had allowed employees and authors of a health organization, mHealth Kenya, access their blood banks and data of at least 20,230 donors.

The health organization acts as a link between public and private hospitals in ensuring that health services offered are of high quality and sustainable.

In this case, the organization was supposed to help KNBTS get blood donations through an initiative dubbed Text4Life funded by Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States.

“Our work was to help the blood bank utilize mobile phone platform in communicating with its donors countrywide,” stated mHealth Kenya Limited CEO Cathy Mwangi.

She however, acknowledged that employees from her organization published the report without authorization of KNBTS.

But lead author of the report, Gerald Mahuro has maintained that “I stand by the results we published as a true reflection of the quality of donated blood to KNBTS within the study period.”

By virtue of being employees of mHealth Kenya, cites the study, “authors of the report had permission, from KNBTS, to use the data in the publication.”

The authors of the report have since written to the editor of the Indian journal asking that the publication be withdrawn since its submission was non-procedural.

Dr Mwangi and N Kipkorir said they were included as co-authors without their input or consent.

Last year, another damning reports howing how Kenyan bllod banks are contaminated was published.

A team led by Magdaline Wairimu Kamande of Kenya Methodist University showed 5.2 per cent of blood at KNBTS bank at the Nyeri Centre was contaminated with HIV.

The report is said to have been approved by KNBTS before being published in the IOSR Journal of Pharmacy.

However, Dr Oduor insist that they have effective screening systems and all blood donated is safe.