Somalia Inaugurates National Blood Bank.

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The first blood bank has been launched in Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia, the first in 30 years that donors said could help the country’s emergency responses. The inauguration on Saturday was presided over by the Somali Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre. 

Alongside the Prime Minister, dignitaries, health officials, and representatives from the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) were present at the launch.

The new development is an effort to revive the country’s collapsed blood ban that had initially been established in 1976 but collapsed in 1991 alongside other state institutions during the civil war. Officials said the new facility was formed with support from the United Nations reproductive health agency (UNFPA) and the Swedish government.

Mr Barre described the new blood bank facility as a positive step, especially for a country that often requires blood supplies on a daily basis; the impact of attacks by extremist groups such as Al Shabaab.

“We have been struggling with violent incidents and different calamities that often required blood supplies,” said the Premier addressing a galaxy of officials that included Somalia’s Health Minister Dr Ali Haji Aden, and the Country Representative for UNFPA in Somalia Niyi Ojuolape.

Mr. Aden said to the media that the country is now in a better position to effectively handle emergency situations by concentrating on life-saving deeds because of the restored blood bank.

The blood bank serves as a lifeline in a number of medical situations, including operations, trauma cases, problems during childbirth, and the treatment of patients with chronic illnesses, according to a statement released by UNFPA.

The blood bank is located at Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu and has the capacity to store 6,500 units of donated blood at any given time. It is equipped with state-of-the-art technology for screening, preparation, and secure storage of blood and blood products.

The statement read; “the National Blood Bank has a 50-unit-per-day production capacity and a storage capacity of 6,500 units at any given time”.

The facility is well-considered in that it can balance the demand against supply, ensuring that health professionals have immediate access to safe blood products, thus reducing the risk of preventable deaths. 

According to the Somali government officials, UNFPA, and the Swedish government, the facility will endure the availability of life-saving blood products and scale up the country’s overall healthcare infrastructure. The agency’s statement indicated “it is critical to addressing healthcare challenges, such as maternal mortality rates, access to quality healthcare, and emergency medical services.”

Dr Yasin Ahmed Nur, a former deputy director of Somalia’s defunct blood bank, who also, attended the launch ceremony of the new blood bank on Saturday said the move reflects a turnaround for the country’s medical response.

On Sunday, Dr. Nur said, the former bank used to produce 10,000 units per year. He recalls that the bank was looted and destroyed by rag-tag militias, forcing him to flee from the residential section of the former bank.

“We used to send trucks with a cooling system to seek donations from military barracks, ministries and government offices and educational centers, and their likes,” remarked Dr. Nur, urging the new bank management to mobilize donors.

“Unlike in the 1970s and 1980s, Somalia has advanced transportation and communication systems, every town having its own airport or airstrip, facilitating blood transportation to needy people,” he added.

The State Minister of Health Dr Maryama Mohamed Hussein said that the ministry and the blood bank’s management will take advantage of the 14 June is World Blood Donor Day to raise awareness.

“We will urge our people to discard the taboo against blood donations. We will take advantage of the opportunity to teach that every year countries around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day,” remarked Dr Hussein.

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