A blood service that gives patients access to safe blood and blood products in sufficient quantity is a key component of an effective health system. An adequate supply can only be ensured through regular donations by voluntary, unpaid blood donors. My appeal is to urge the population to donate as frequently as possible and to encourage more people to join this life saving mission to help us collect 55 000 pints of blood per year.
This plea was made this morning by the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Dr Anwar Husnoo, at the opening of a workshop on 'Blood Sustainablity-Present and Future' organised at Gold Crest Hotel in Quatre Bornes on the occasion of World Blood Donor Day 2018. The one-day brainstorming session aims at gathering inputs from relevant stakeholders so as to develop strategies and an action plan for a sustainable and safe blood supply.
Speaking about how transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year, Dr Husnoo underlined that it can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life, and support complex medical and surgical procedures. It also has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and child care and during the emergency response to man-made and natural disasters, he said.
He highlighted that the need for blood in Mauritius is on the rise due to high prevalence of non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular diseases and cancer while the blood donor pool is gradually shrinking for the same reasons and an aging population. Hence the need, he stated, to motivate, educate and inform the population on the importance of blood donation.
The Health Minister emphasised that young people, who tend to be healthy, idealistic and motivated, are an excellent pool of potential voluntary unpaid blood donors. Recruiting and retaining youth donors improves the long-term safety and sufficiency of a country's blood supply, he added. Blood donation is an altruistic action that benefits the society and it also promotes community values through the enhancement of community solidarity and social cohesion and encourages people to care for one another and build a caring community, he said.
The aim, pointed out Dr Husnoo, is to collect blood from 100% voluntary blood donors so as to ensure an adequate blood supply. Blood units from voluntary donors in Mauritius is on the rise, increasing from 25% ten years ago to 92% presently, he said. Speaking about blood transfusion in Mauritius, he underlined that it is around 77 per 1 000 population, the highest in Africa and at par with high income countries. The key however, he stated, is to ensure availability and safety and quality of blood at all times.
For his part, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative, Dr Laurent Musango, stated that Mauritius has made significant progress to improve the safety of blood. He enumerated several measures taken by the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) which have helped to improve the quality of blood transfusion and the service. They include: increase in voluntary blood donors from 60% in 2006 to 86.3% in 2017; separation of blood into components; ISO certification of the NBTS; and computerisation of all blood transfusion activities.
World Blood Donor Day 2018
Every year, on 14 June, countries around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day. The event serves to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood and to raise awareness of the need for regular blood donations to ensure the quality, safety and availability of blood and blood products for patients in need. However, in many countries, blood services face the challenge of making sufficient blood available, while also ensuring its quality and safety.
The theme of this year's campaign is Blood donation as an action of solidarity. It highlights the fundamental human values of altruism, respect, empathy and kindness which underline and sustain voluntary unpaid blood donation systems. The slogan, "Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life", aims to draw attention to the roles that voluntary donation systems play in encouraging people to care for one another and generate social ties and a united community.
The campaign also aims to highlight stories of people whose lives have been saved through blood donation, as a way of motivating regular blood donors to continue giving blood, and to motivate people in good health who have never given blood to begin doing so, particularly young people.