First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta launched the Mobile Blood Donation Unit and Valentine’s Day Blood Drive on February 14. U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec was present at the event along with other government officials. Through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. government has worked closely with the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) and the Ministry of Health in developing new policies to ensure a safe and sufficient blood supply and the appropriate use of blood products.
CDC has supported KNBTS in important projects including: 1) enrolling in an accreditation process to ensure KNBTS meet international standards; 2) using a text message-based system (SMS) that improves donor recruitment and retention and 3) a web-based computer information management system for improved efficiency and better donor data management.
The mobile blood donation unit will improve safety and sufficiency of blood in Nairobi and the country at large, bringing convenience to potential blood donors who live outside the town center and who may not have time to come for donations. It will move from one estate to another, thus reducing donor fatigue.
The mobile blood donation unit was supported through public and private donations, demonstrating the importance of public-private partnerships and country ownership, while the donor SMS system being demonstrated was provided technical and financial support through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR)/CDC.
As part of its support for HIV and AIDS programs under PEPFAR, the U.S. government has provided Kenya technical expertise to create a system that supports safe blood supply. These efforts have helped protect those who receive a blood transfusion or other blood products to be safe from HIV, and from several other blood-borne diseases, like hepatitis.