Ministry of Health spokesperson Dr Abel Kabalo has refuted claims that there is short supply of blood at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH).

On Tuesday, consultant gynecologist and obstetrician at UTH Dr Mulindi Mwanahamuntu said the hospital was in short supply of blood, a situation which led to increased deaths.

“It is a precious resource which is in short supply. Part of the reason is that the culture of donating blood is probably not there, we don’t even donate blood to our sick relatives. Loss of blood is a leading cause of death especially after child birth and failure to replace the lost blood. There is a delay in replacing the blood which has been lost even if it is found, the damage would already have been caused. There is a lot of evidence that has been published showing that one of the reasons of maternal death is loss of blood. Villagers donate more than town people,” said Dr Mwanahamuntu.

But in an interview, Thursday, Dr Kabalo said there was always blood in the blood bank reserved for maternal health.

“I don’t think that is correct information. Of course we might not be at the level where we would want to be in terms of blood but in terms of emergencies, blood is there. For theatre cases, definitely blood is there. But let me get to the bottom of it and then find out what is happening at UTH, then I can give you a better informed position. Maybe they are not ordering from blood bank but otherwise blood blank always has blood for maternal health. If at all we have run out of blood anywhere, we reserve blood for the Women’s hospital. We can compromise on all these other things that can fill blood with diets and just supplements and reserve blood for maternal health. We always reserve blood for maternal cases,” Dr Kabalo said.

Dr Kabalo, however, asked willing members of the public to donate blood at the nearest health centers.

“We do blood collection campaigns. The Zambia National Blood Transfusion Services is always available to receive blood. Right now, there is a blood bank in UTH so they can go there and donate the blood. Of course the blood has to be screened, there is a screening procedure that we undertake, we cannot give blood that is not of use to our patients. There are blood transfusion services is in all the provinces collecting blood so people should feel free to go to the health provincial centers that they are in. Blood transfusion services have been decentralized and we are looking at decentralizing the districts but it is a long process,” said Dr Kabalo.