Spreading awareness on sufficient, safe blood supply

Hakim Hayat

In conjunction with Blood Donors Day 2020, which is celebrated annually on June 14, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar in a message called on concerted efforts from all levels to spread more awareness on the importance of sufficient and safe blood supply for the country.

According to the minister, in 2019, the Blood Donation Centre registered a three per cent increase of blood donations from the previous year, with some 16,025 were collected from 13,501 donors including 2,120 newly registered donors.

Alhamdulillah, we still can fulfil the goal recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), an annual reach of between one to three per cent of the population for emergency needs,” he shared, adding that the figure in 2019 was at 3.55 per cent, which is consistent since 2014.

To ensure that the goal is constantly met, the minister said the Blood Donation Centre will continuously be active and encourages voluntary blood donation campaigns.

He also said the Blood Donation Centre at the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital and blood banks at all district hospitals will strive to provide access to safe and adequate blood and blood products for patients. “This is a vital component in ensuring the effectiveness of the healthcare system in the country,” said the minister.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar. PHOTO: MOH

He added that despite the COVID-19 pandemic gripping countries worldwide, with physical distancing encouraged and mass gatherings not allowed, the Blood Donation Centre still plays an important and active role in promoting blood donation activities and campaigns while adhering to precautionary and safety guidelines.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham later called on everyone to collectively inculcate awareness in ensuring safe and adequate blood supply through voluntary blood donation activities, without expecting anything in return.

“Only with this, access to adequate blood supply can continuously be given to patients who need blood transfusions in a timely manner,” he added.

Earlier in the message, the minister said that millions of lives were saved every year through blood transfusion and products.

In Brunei alone, he said various patients in different conditions need blood transfusion daily, whether immediately or continuously in normal or emergency circumstances such as accidents, trauma and disaster.

“Emergency patients experiencing haemorrhaging during surgery as well as mothers experiencing severe haemorrhaging during pregnancy or during child birth need immediate blood transfusion, while children who have anaemia and suffering from blood and bone marrow disorders such as Thalassaemia and Leukaemia need continuous blood transfusion.

The campaign theme for this year’s World Blood Donor Day is ‘Safe Blood Saves Lives’ with the slogan ‘Give blood and make the world a healthier place’. The idea is to focus on the contribution an individual giver can make to improve health for others in the community.

Blood donations are needed all over the world to ensure individuals and communities have access to safe and quality-assured blood and blood products in both normal and emergency situations. Through the campaign, we call on more people all over the world to become life-savers by volunteering to donate blood regularly.

The objectives of this year’s campaign are to celebrate and thank individuals who donate blood and to encourage those who have not yet donated blood to start donating; to highlight the need for committed, year-round blood donation, to maintain adequate supplies and achieve universal and timely access to safe blood transfusion; to focus attention on the contribution donors make to the entire community as a critical factor in improving health; to demonstrate the need for universal access to safe blood transfusion and provide advocacy on its role in the provision of effective healthcare and in achieving the goal of universal health coverage; and to mobilise support at national, regional and global levels among governments and development partners to invest in, strengthen and sustain national blood programmes.

In Brunei, blood donation campaign and activities is a regular practice.

The minister said the Ministry of Health through the Blood Donation Centre will continuously work together with government agencies, education institutions, uniformed groups, the private sector and NGOs to coordinate mobile blood donation campaigns throughout all districts.

The minister also thanked blood donors in Brunei for their voluntary time in helping patients who need them, including young blood donors as young as 17.