With the country continuing to struggle amidst a blood crisis, every Ugandan, as urged, thought of what they can do to save the day with only 151 units of blood left at Nakasero blood bank. FDC being Ugandan as anyone else followed what the other institutions and organizations were doing to mobilize blood to effectively respond to the crisis.
Buganda kingdom, Capital FM, Uganda National Roads Authority, the Indian Association in Uganda, Pakistan Association, Nepalese Association, and so many others, all arranged in their organizations and mobilized their staff and publics to partake in the ongoing blood donation drive.
According to Uganda Red Cross, over 16,000 units of blood have so far been collected. However, the campaign on February 14 faced a major setback when police and the government body responsible for collection of blood – Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS) – decided to call off the drive that had been spearheaded by FDC at their headquarters in Najjanankumbi.
This is very sad basing on the fact that the party has taken time to publicize the camp, invested resources and prepared for it all this time. In a last-minute call, from whoever it came, UBTS backed out of the arrangement apparently citing that, on a certain radio talk show, FDC had politicized the matter.
As much as I agree that UBTS are supposed to be nonpartisan, one can argue that this time round, the partisanship emanated from their end. If it were FDC who refused to donate to a government body, then perhaps we would blame them for involving politics into matters of health and saving lives; but it is the opposite. UBTS refused to work with them because they are in the opposition!
This beats logic and understanding to know that an organization that has been all over the press called on everyone to respond to the blood crisis is the same organization that has just turned down hundreds of people assembling, ready to donate blood. How disturbing! Why should we put lives at stake simply because of petty politics? Even if FDC had politicized the issue as it is alleged, the harm doesn’t in any way outweigh the good that would have come from the donations.
Does UNBTS have any idea how many units of blood they would have collected on February 14, or do they know how many they are going to lose if they don’t come up and apologize for this overt partisanship?
It is rather embarrassing to know that the Pakistanis, Indians, Nepalese, and so on, rushed and took action when they heard about the crisis. Whatever amounts of blood they collected will basically help Ugandans, but then deny nationals in FDC a chance to donate and save their own. It is unfortunate.
The country has an annual target of over 380,000 units of blood (one per cent of the total population), which means over 1,000 units need to be collected a day. This target is yet to be achieved.
With these wanting figures on matters of health, you want to grab any pack of blood there is, even if it means picking it from your archenemy.
With life, let there be no pride. Whoever made the late call to cancel the drive could really care less since he is perhaps not the ordinary citizen who will go begging for a pack of blood in a local hospital; he could be the person whose patients are guaranteed to jet out of the country whenever an illness strikes. There is no way blood donation would concern such a fellow.
We should, therefore, let the blood donation drive continue as we still need more and more blood. Next week will be Umeme donating, if nothing is done about this unfair exclusion, why should an FDC supporter go all the way to Umeme, a government affiliate, to donate blood.
This is why UNBTS has to come up as soon as possible and clear this mess. Apologize to the party and the whole nation for putting their lives after politics or else we may see a major cut in the numbers that turn up for blood donation.
The author is a social and political critic