Barclays Bank is partnering with the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Services (KNBTS) to launch an annual blood donation drive. This year’s campaign, dubbed 15-to-save-a-life, will run between the 2nd and 11th of May and will be spread across 30 of its branches countrywide.
The bank aims to add 1,000 new units to the national blood bank to help bridge a rising deficit recorded every year. According to the KNBTS, the country needs more than 400,000 units of blood per year to fulfill various medical needs but records a staggering shortfall of 250,000 units currently. The deficit is more profound during school holidays since students make up 80% of donors.
“Yet it only takes an average of 15 minutes to donate a unit of blood which is why we have dubbed this initiative ‘15-to-save-a-life’,” said Barclays Bank Managing Director Jeremy Awori during the launch at the bank’s headquarters on Waiyaki Way. “And because the demand for blood transfusions doesn’t stop, our aim is to make this an annual campaign.”
Doctors say timely availability of blood is an important component in the efforts to save patients from unnecessary deaths. Blood transfusions save lives, but many patients requiring transfusions do not have the much-needed access to safe blood.
KNBTS estimates that in Kenya, 2 of every 3 units of blood are transfused to mothers and children. However, Kenya has one of the highest maternal mortality rates worldwide at 488 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births that translates to about 20 women dying every day from child birth related complications. The leading cause of maternal mortality is loss of blood just before or after childbirth. The organisation also estimates that every 10 minutes, someone needs blood in Kenya.
The KNBTS director Josephine Githaiga said: “An adequate and reliable supply of safe blood can be assured by a stable base of regular, voluntary blood donors. We need to promote a blood donation culture that starts right from high school and make this a norm.”
Mr. Awori appealed to other corporate organizations to join in the campaign.
“Most importantly, what we want to do is to create a contagion effect that will see more organizations start similar initiatives and hopefully create a culture of blood donation among Kenyans that will eventually see us bridge the existing gap because no Kenyan should have to risk death due to lack of blood.”
The blood donation drive is part of Barclays Shared Growth principle which in essence ties its prosperity to the prosperity of the societies within which it operates.
“We must be an active force for good in society,” said Barclays Africa Group Deputy CEO Peter Matlare. “Where we are, people must want us to stay; where we’ve been, they must want us to come back; and where we are going, they must really want us to hurry up and get there.”
“We shall therefore continue to develop strategies and initiatives that bring us closer to the communities and societies where we operate,” Awori said adding, “And as we enter the next phase of growth, stewardship will remain one of our key values as an organization because we are passionate about leaving things better than we found them.”