Guyana today joins the International Community to observe World Blood Donor Day under the theme: “Blood Connects Us All”.
Currently, Guyana needs between 10,000-12,000 units of blood annually for the successful completion of a significant amount of surgeries. According to the Ministry of Public Health, approximately 15,000 surgeries are completed annually. Additionally, it noted that close to 2,000 pregnant mothers require blood each year during delivery of caesarean operations, both at private and public hospitals.
In his message to mark the occasion, Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton is appealing to all Guyanese to join in this effort to boost voluntary blood donation. The actual process is painless. Only persons who have successfully undergone the mandatory “mini health check up” will be allowed to donate blood.
Blood cannot be stored for long periods. But ONE unit of blood can be processed into three component parts: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Each of these three fractions or components has the potential of saving a life when used to treat separate conditions.
Red blood cells carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, white blood cells helps fight infection and aid in the immune process while platelets helps in blood clotting.
The National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) has over the past decade succeeded in the implementation of the voluntary blood donation approach, thus moving away from replacement donors. We now have a recorded, 90 per cent of voluntary blood donations.
He also encourages organizations to come forward and help the Ministry in working towards 100 per cent voluntary blood donations by 2020.
The Ministry of Public Health has been collaborating with the Private and Public Sector, Faith Base Organisations, Non – Governmental Organisations to raise awareness and conduct blood drives.
In 2015, the Ministry of Public Health recorded a total of 9698 units of blood collected, including units collected from the Regional Blood Banks in Regions 2, 3, 6 & 10.
Blood can be donated on a regular basis at the NBTS in GPHC Compound, New Amsterdam Hospital, Suddie Hospital, Linden Hospital Complex and the West Demerara Regional Hospital.
‘World Blood Donor Day’ was first observed in 2004, which was followed by its designation as an annual global event by the fifty- eighth World Health Assembly (Resolution WHA58.13) in 2005’. Ever since its implementation, each year, on June 14, Blood Transfusion Sites (popular referred to as Blood Banks) across the world commemorates this day by raising awareness on the importance of blood donation while recognizing the contributions of our voluntary unpaid blood donors.
According to the World Health Organisation/ Pan America Health Organisation (WHO/PAHO), 108 million blood donations are collected globally; half of these are in high- income countries. Blood donation by 1% of the population can meet a nation’s most basic requirement for blood. Access to safe blood is fundamental in the Health Sector; hence it is important to note that an adequate supply of safe blood and blood products can only be assured through regular voluntary donations. This type of donation is the safest group of donors as the prevalence of blood-borne infections is lowest among this group. Blood Transfusion has played an essential role not only in maternal and prenatal care, complex medical and surgical procedures but has helped patients suffering from life threatening conditions live longer and a higher quality of life.