MTN Uganda Foundation has officially handed over blood storage equipment to the Mbarara Regional blood bank under the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS). This is in a bid to address the issue of blood shortage arising from inadequate blood storage equipment.
The state-of-the-art blood refrigerator was handed over to the Parliamentary Woman Representative for Mbarara Municipality, Hon. Rosette Kajungu Mutambi in a ceremony held today at the Mbarara Regional Blood Bank in Mbarara district.
This follows the telecom company’s pledge in July when it availed UGX. 347 million to procure the equipment that comprises of an automated plasma extractor and 3 blood refrigerators. The automated plasma extractor that will be stationed at the Nakasero Blood Bank will be used for the processing of blood plasma to extract components of red and white blood cells, and platelets for the Nakasero blood bank.
The three refrigerators will be delivered to the regional blood banks based at the regional referral hospitals in Mbarara, Mbale and Arua. Mbarara becomes the first regional blood bank to receive its equipment. Arua and Mbale are set to receive theirs in due course.
While handing over the equipment, Mr. Bryan Mbasa, the Acting Senior Manager, MTN Foundation reiterated MTN Uganda’s commitment to supporting government’s push towards meeting the Global Sustainable Development Goal No. 3 which aims at ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages.
“We are proud of this partnership with the UBTS and the Ministry of Health in complementing their efforts to make available this scarce resource of blood,” Mr. Mbasa said.
Speaking at the same ceremony, Dr. Andrew Byamungu, the principal Medical Officer at the Mbarara Regional Blood Bank noted that the refrigerators will address the issue of blood shortage that has been arising from inadequate storage facilities.
“In the past, we have been losing a lot of blood because of lack of adequate storage but that will no longer be an issue. We thank MTN for this refrigerator because it will enable us store blood and avail it to the hospital whenever they need it,” Dr. Byamungu said.
According to Byamungu, the Mbarara Regional blood bank serves 62 hospitals in sixteen districts in the western region of the country. He explains that blood is mostly consumed by anaemic children aged below five years, mothers after delivery, accident victims and other patients.
Mr. Gilbert Sande, the Head of Logistics at the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services said that with the new refrigerator donated by the MTN Foundation, Mbarara regional blood bank will be able to store more than twice the amount of blood they have been storing.
“We had storage capacity of 300 units. But now with the new refrigerator that stores over 700 units, we shall be able to have over 1000 units of blood at any one time,” Mr. Sande
While receiving the equipment, Hon. Kajungu thanked the MTN Foundation for working together with the government for the good of the people of Uganda.
“Thank you MTN Foundation Uganda for this equipment. It will go a long way in addressing the blood shortage issues that arise from lack of adequate storage of donated blood to save lives,” Hon. Kajungu said, “The MTN Foundation has shown its passion for maternal health. By supporting safe blood storage, more mothers will be saved since more blood will be available, thanks to this initiative.”
The MTN Foundation has undertaken to support a number of government health initiatives. Early this Month, the MTN Foundation in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Health unveiled the finance and date schedule to implement maternal health projects to a tune of UGX.1.33 billion. While UGX. 600 million was raised from the 2018 MTN Kampala Marathon and regional runs, the other is a top up from the MTN Foundation.
The funds are being used to complement efforts by the Ministry of Health to improve service delivery in 5 Health Centre IV facilities across Uganda namely Muyembe HC IV in Bulambuli district, Pakwach HC IV in Pakwach district, Kalangala HC IV in Kalangala district, Karugutu HC IV in Ntoroko district and Kawempe Women and Children Hospital in Kampala.
Early this year, the MTN Foundation refurbished eight Maternity wards in eight health center III facilities across the country during the MTN 20th anniversary celebrations. Arua, Gulu, Lira, Kabarole, Hoima, Kiruhura, Kabale and Mbale are the districts that were reached during this initiative.
In addition to renovating and refurbishing maternity wards, the MTN Foundation also provided solar energy, water and sanitation facilities to maternity wards at selected health centers to ensure that mothers not only plan for their pregnancies but give life in dignity and comfort.