Drop Your Blood Letters campaign begins today

James Kon

The British High Commission in Brunei Darussalam collaborated with the Blood Donation Centre to launch a blood donation awareness campaign, Drop Your Blood Letters, that will begin today at 8am.

The details were shared by Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) at the Ministry of Health (MoH) Dr Haji Zulaidi bin Haji Abdul Latif and British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Richard Lindsay during a press conference yesterday.

The campaign is a result of a suggestion made by the envoy that more awareness needed to be raised on blood donation in the country.

According to Dr Haji Zulaidi, “In 2019, the average monthly blood collected during a campaign was 800 units. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a drop in donation by 38 per cent.”

He also reported a drop in the number of blood donation drives since the onset of the outbreak.

“In 2019, an average of 20 campaigns were held in a month. However, in the last three months, the average number has dropped to 11, with only six last month,” he said.

Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) at the Ministry of Health Dr Haji Zulaidi bin Haji Abdul Latif (L) and British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Richard Lindsay at the press conference. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI

The deputy permanent secretary also revealed that critically ill COVID-19 patients at the National Isolation Centre need regular blood transfusion, on top of the individuals with blood disorders such as leukaemia, thalassaemia and anaemia.

The aim of Drop Your Blood Letters is to encourage more blood donation among the populace during Ramadhan when the stock is comparatively lower.

In concert with the initiative, the Blood Donation Centre has extended the operating hours to evening on selected days to cater for everyone, especially Muslim donors who are unable to donate blood during daytime.

“Blood donation is a noble act. At present, we cannot replicate blood, thus the need to obtain from willing donors,” the deputy permanent secretary said. “There are four blood types: O, A, B and AB, with majority in Brunei Darussalam being type O. However, we need to make sure all blood types are readily available at the blood bank at all times.”

This was echoed by the high commissioner, who said, “We need 50 units of blood (at the Blood Donation Centre) every day. Blood cannot be manufactured or produced. So when you give blood, you are saving or improving up to three lives.”

On Drop Your Blood Letters, Dr Haji Zulaidi said, “It is a campaign that everyone can join, even from home simply by posting a picture of your name or your organisation’s name without the A, B and O on social media by including the hashtags #british.hc.bn, #bloodbank_ripas, #dropyourbloodletters and #ukinbrunei.”

He also called for the public to take part in the campaign “to increase the awareness on blood donation and to increase the number of people donating blood to the Blood Donation Centre and other blood banks” as well as other ministries, schools, the private sector and individuals to organise blood donation drives to help replenish the supply at blood banks.

The deputy permanent secretary expressed hopes that Brunei “will remain as one of the countries in the world that still practises voluntary, non-remunerated blood donations, while observing social distancing rules during the current COVID-19 pandemic and overcoming the shortage in blood supply during Ramadhan”.

Meanwhile, High Commissioner Lindsay said, “We are finding ways that we can help the community, especially the MoH.”

He also reminded the public that the Drop Your Blood Letters initiative “is not a blood drive campaign but an awareness campaign with the aim to increase awareness on blood donation here in Brunei. Our hope is that this will increase the number of people donating blood, particularly during the month of Ramadhan when the blood stocks are lower”.

A similar campaign was launched in the United Kingdom (UK) three years ago, which successfully attracted 30,000 new blood donating registrants during its first week.