Cover Image
close this bookSafe Blood in Developing Countries - The Lessons from Uganda (EC, 1995, 151 p.)
close this folderSection Three - The story of the Uganda blood transfusion service
close this folderChapter Four - How the European commission got involved
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDr Lieve Fransen's report
View the documentThe 1987 plan
View the documentThe 1987 starting position
View the documentThe role of the Red Cross

The 1987 starting position

The original project was seen as a first phase of a larger programme, and was to rehabilitate the Kampala blood bank building in Nakasero, provide equipment, consumables and recurrent costs, train staff and provide the technical assistance necessary to process the 10,000 units of safe blood annually, sufficient for the Kampala/Entebbe area. As we have seen, the city hospitals had each developed their own blood bank capability, which varied from crisis management to a public appeal for donors plus HIV testing, to maintenance of an emergency stock of blood at all times.

It was at the big teaching hospital, New Mulago with 1800 beds, that the greatest difficulty was experienced in screening for HIV and providing blood in a timely fashion. Policies had evolved that resulted in individual surgeons and physicians jealously guarding the blood that had been supplied by their patients' relatives. The most seriously affected were the paediatric and obstetric patients, so the first objective was to fill this gap of about 100 units of blood a month. The Nakasero Blood Bank also collected and tested blood given at the hospital by relatives.


Soon it was apparent that the other major hospitals were experiencing difficulty in obtaining blood bags, typing reagents and other consumables. These items were therefore supplied by the blood bank. Three months after starting to collect blood, the NBB was providing all that was needed to supplement relatives' blood donations at Mulago and was able to assist the other hospitals in the same way, at first on request and when possible, but within three months as a matter of routine twice a week.

Within a year everyone had gained enough confidence in the system for every hospital in the area to send all their blood for processing at the Nakasero Blood Bank and had agreed to receive their fair share of the blood that was safe and available. It was this decision to provide blood bank service to all hospitals equally that was later to become the basis of a national blood bank.