Private hospitals have been charging patients exorbitant prices for donated blood profiting from the goodwill of donors.
Apart from donors, most private hospitals get blood from the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) which the government fully covers the costs up to the point of distribution to hospitals.
The vast majority of funding for this blood collection programme – some 80 per cent – came from outside donors, according to a government report.
This ensured there was money for essential supplies, personnel and other blood safety-related costs.
The funding also goes towards an outreach programme with mobile units collecting blood in schools, universities and other public places around the country.
The main donor was the US government through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief – known as Pepfar for short.
However, a check by The Informer found that patients requiring transfusion pay between Sh20,000 and Sh50,000 for blood in private hospitals – even if they bring along donors to replenish the blood used during treatment.
For a pint of blood type AB, O- and O+, private hospitals are charging between Sh20,000 and Sh30,000 However, blood type O- attracts fees of up to Sh50,000 since it’s the scarcest.
However, a costing reference document is in the process of development in which when it comes to effect, private hospitals will start charging patients a standard amount for blood.
With the costing reference in place, the public will know what they should pay in all private hospitals.
Based on World Health Organization guidelines for the proportion of donors relative to total population, Kenya should be collecting as much as one million units of blood a year.
Kenya’s population is 47 million, so even if just 1 per cent donated blood, the country would have at least 470,000 units.