Lesotho: Blood Center Strengthens Lesotho's Health Care Sector

Washington — Lesotho's health care sector recently got a boost with the completion of a U.S.-funded center dedicated to collecting blood and disseminating it to local hospitals.

The Lesotho Blood Transfusion Services center, which opened in January, is part of the Millennium Challenge Corporation's (MCC) five-year, $363-million, poverty-reduction and economic growth compact with Lesotho.

"The new center is a huge achievement," said Maleqhoa Nyopa, the center's manager. "The building is large enough to allow us to store as much blood as possible, which will help save lives."

"Our work is going to improve tremendously," the manager said.

Since the compact went into effect in 2008, it has funded the renovation or construction of up to 138 health centers that provide care to communities throughout the country. It has devoted funds to the purchase of a vehicle for mobile blood collections, improved medical laboratories, health care staff training and residential facilities, and improvements in health research, occupational health and medical waste management practices.

The old blood collection center in Maseru was housed in a small rented facility without proper equipment for collecting and processing blood. The new center is expected to collect 5,000 blood units in 2013, compared to 3,380 in 2008. Having an adequate supply of blood will alleviate some of the challenges of serving the county's population, particularly those with HIV and women giving birth, Alice Riedel, MCC's Lesotho deputy director, wrote in a February MCC blog posting.

"I am proud to be part of an initiative that is helping improve health care in Lesotho in practical ways," Nyopa said.

In addition to improving Lesotho's health care infrastructure, the compact has focused on removing barriers to foreign and domestic investment and improving the country's water supply, including restoring the country's alpine wetlands.

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