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AMISOM holds blood donation drive

The blood bank at AMISOM Level II hospital serves both AU Mission personnel and residents of Somalia.

Globally, blood transfusion saves millions of lives; however, in a country like Somalia where the need for safe blood is higher due to the effect of armed conflict and harsh living conditions, access to the precious fluid is still a major challenge.

To help improve access to safe blood in Somalia, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops, civilian staff and international partners gathered in Mogadishu to donate blood for use at the AU Mission’s Level II Hospital, the Mission’s largest medical facility in Somalia.

The blood donation drive was part of a series of activities to mark the World Blood Donor Day, which is celebrated annually on 14 June.

The campaign was led by the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (DSRCC) for Somalia, Simon Mulongo, who urged healthy individuals in the country to donate blood to help improve its availability in hospitals.

“We are here to commemorate World Blood Donor Day, which is held every year. We are here to not only thank those who donate blood but to explain the usefulness of blood. We lose many people because of various occurrences in a Mission like the one we are in and by donating blood, we save lives and that is extremely important,” Mulongo noted.

The blood bank at AMISOM Level II hospital serves both AU Mission personnel and residents of Somalia.

AMISOM Deputy Force Commander in charge of Operations and Plans, Maj. Gen. Nakibus Lakara, said AMISOM’s activities was not only restricted to military operations but also humanitarian activities such as voluntary blood donation campaigns, which are aimed at saving precious lives in Somalia.

“Today’s exercise is not about war or fighting. It’s about supporting and saving lives by donating blood,” said Maj. Gen. Lakara noted.

Lt Col Dr Lawrence Basaaliza, the Commanding Officer of AMISOM’s Level II Hospital, said that initially the hospital was constructed to care exclusively for AMISOM officers, especially soldiers. “However, we soon realised that medical facilities in Somalia were down so we now take civilians for all forms of treatment.”

Lt. Col. Basaaliza added that most of the blood donated by AMISOM officers is used on civilians and Somali armed forces injured in combat.

At AMISOM Level II Hospital, there is always a daily steady stream of local Somalis, among them, mothers seeking urgent medical care for their children, and others seeking surgical procedures that often need a blood transfusion.

As AMISOM soldiers brave the brutal frontlines fighting Al-Shabaab militants, from time to time, some of their colleagues remain behind in the Mission Hospital’s detachments, lying down on metallic tables in the shade of green tents, a needle into each one’s arm, donating blood to save hundreds of lives in Somalia.

Hussein Abdikadir, one of the many residents who received medical care at AMISOM Level II Hospital was encouraged by service rendered at the medical facility and become a regular donor.

“AMISOM officers donate blood often, but this hospital (AMISOM Level II) rarely receives blood from the Somali civilian population. It is the reason why I decided to start donating blood to help those in need, especially the patients undergoing surgery.”

AMISOM Level II Hospital accepts voluntary blood donations every day of the week, and also holds monthly blood donation campaigns on a rotational basis at its bases across Somalia.

Source: New Vision