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Masaka and Rakai Residents Shun Blood Donation Drive

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A blood donation campaign in Masaka and Rakai districts is failing because of misconceptions regarding the voluntary donation of blood.
Dickson Sengonzi, a mobilizer for the Uganda Red Cross Society in southern Uganda, says the weeklong blood donation drive was intended to replenish blood bank supplies at the health centers in Kyazaanga, Bukomansimbi and Kakuuto. It was also held at Kalisizo Hospital.
Sengonzi says only a handful of people responded to the call for blood and the minimum expected donation was not met. He says the region needs more than 2,000 units of blood every month to distribute to health centers and hospitals in Masaka, Rakai, Sembabule, Kalangala and Lyantonde.
Sengonzi attributes the low turn-up to a misunderstanding of the blood donation drive. He says people expect that once they have given their blood for free, they can go to any hospital in Uganda, private or public, and receive blood for free.
Among those who refused to give blood this week is Hajati Namiiro, a resident of Masaka. She says she will never give blood again because at her point of greatest need, she was denied blood.
Namiiro says her son was involved in an accident at Matanga on the Masaka-Kampala highway. She rushed him to Kitovu Hospital for urgent treatment and was told me needed immediate blood transfusion.
Namiiro claims that because she did not have a blood donor card, to prove that she had ever given blood, the service was denied her. Her son's life was only saved when she moved him to Masaka Regional Referral Hospital for treatment.
Father John Matovu, an administrator at Kitovu Hospital, refutes Namiiro's story. He insists that the hospital has never charged any of its patients for blood transfusion services.
Ayub Mutebi, the Masaka blood transfusion recruiting officer, says that unless urgent action is taken, the supplies at Masaka Regional Blood Bank will run dry. He says the bank usually depends on donations from school children during term time. He is afraid that with the rise in cases of malaria, the health centers will not be able to meet the demand for blood.
//Cue in: iThere's a very high demand #i
Cue out: i# consumes a lot of blood.i//

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