Young blood urged to help ‘keep world beating’

Izah Azahari

The Blood Donation Centre at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital recorded a total of 16, 156 pints of blood from 10,500 blood donors, including 3,215 newly registered donors in 2020.

Meanwhile in 2019, 16,025 blood collections were recorded including 2,120 newly registered blood donors, showing an increase of 0.8 per cent (131 units of blood) in blood collection for 2020, compared to 2019.

The goal recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) is an annual achievement in the number of blood donors within the range of one to three per cent of the total population, to meet the needs of the country in dealing with emergency situations.

This was said by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar in his message in conjunction with World Blood Donors Day 2021.

Observed annually on June 14, this year’s World Blood Donor Day is held under the theme ‘Safe Blood Saves Lives’ and the slogan, ‘Give Blood and Keep the World Beating’, emphasising the importance of blood donation in saving lives and improving the health of others.

“The specific focus of this year’s celebration is the role of youth in ensuring a safe blood supply. They are required to lead activities and initiatives, to achieve a safe blood supply through voluntary blood donation. Youth form a large sector of the population in society, and they are full of idealism, passion and creativity,” said the minister.

Alhamdulillah, Brunei Darussalam reached 3.66 per cent in 2020, and this figure is consistent with the accomplishments from 2014. To ensure that these accomplishments are sustained, the Blood Donation Centre actively urges and encourages the organising of voluntary blood donation campaigns, while also intensifying and expanding these activities to attract existing or potential blood donors.

“The Blood Donation Centre at RIPAS Hospital and blood banks at all district hospitals will also continue their efforts to provide access to safe blood and blood products for patients in sufficient quantities, as this is an important component in ensuring the effectiveness of the country’s health system.

“Although the world is confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blood Donation Centre still plays an important and active role in promoting blood donation activities and campaigns by adopting the standard of procedure (SOP) recommendations.

“As such, the Ministry of Health (MoH) calls on blood donors and the public to come to the Blood Donation Centre to perform this act of philanthropy.

“Meanwhile, government agencies, educational institutions, uniformed forces, the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are also called upon to jointly organise blood donation campaigns to help boost the country’s blood supply stocks.

“To ensure the blood given to patients is safe, the Blood Donation Centre is always actively planning and carrying out systematic measures to reduce the risk of infection through blood transfusions (transfusion transmissible infections – TTIs).

“Among the steps taken to build a strong foundation in ensuring a safe and quality blood supply to meet the needs of the patients in need of blood transfusions, are the plans to carry out Nucleic Acid Test to detect specific types of nucleic acids for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses; reduce reactions to blood transfusions with the use of blood bags capable of filtering white blood cells (also known as Leucocyte Depleted Packed Cells); further strengthen safe blood donation based on the accredited and recent Blood Donation Handbook; and conduct quality control tests to ensure that the quality of blood and blood products are in accordance with the standards as outlined by international standards bodies.

“Apart from focussing on youth, the recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding patients with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is that they can donate blood, subject to the patient’s condition.

“However, permission to donate blood is also subject to a medical examination by a medical officer or examining officer on duty.

“Among the NCDs allowed to donate blood are diabetic patients with a stable and normal blood level who do not take any type of insulin medication; hypertensive patients who have normal blood pressure and only take one type of medication; gout patients; kidney patients who have fully recovered; patients with thyroid problems, if the thyroid disorder is harmless; and patients who are deficient in iron, B12 and folate not owing to blood donation and have fully recovered, with a haemoglobin level of not less than 12.5g/dL.

“The safety of donated blood can be compromised by donor exposure to HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, syphilis and other infectious diseases that can infect others in a number of ways, particularly through free intercourse and sexual conduct, and exposure through high-risk behaviour such as unsafe blood transfusions and needle injections, as well as cosmetic treatments, acupuncture and cupping, using non-sterile and non-disposable needles.

“The MoH advises blood donors and those wishing to donate blood to be more vigilant in taking care of their health, whether in terms of non-communicable or infectious diseases.

“The MoH also reminds public to fill in blood donor health examination forms and answer the questions as honestly as possible, because providing information that is known to be false or misleading is an offence under Section 11, Chapter 204 of the Infectious Diseases Act. If convicted, the perpetrator may be fined not more than BND20,000 or imprisoned for a term not exceeding two years, or both.

“The entire MoH staff and I would like to honour and express our deepest appreciation to all blood donors in Brunei Darussalam who have contributed their time to donate voluntarily, without expecting any reward, to help patients in dire need. This includes a generation of young heroes with the courage to come forward and start donating blood, as early as 17 years old.

“Our thanks also goes out to government agencies, educational institutions, uniformed forces, the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as well as individuals involved in hosting blood donation activities and campaigns over the years. Insya Allah, each unit of donated blood is capable of saving three patients’ lives.

“In this regard, I would also like to call on and encourage those who have never donated blood to start doing so, for the good and well-being of all.

“Therefore, in conjunction with World Blood Donor Day, let us together raise awareness on the importance of unity in ensuring an adequate and safe blood supply, through continuous voluntary blood donation activities. Only through this, will access to adequate blood supply continue to be enjoyed by patients in need of safe and timely blood transfusions.”

For details on the Blood Donation Centre’s activities, follow bloodbankripas.brunei on Facebook or @bloodbank_ripas on Instagram.