Health minister calls for more blood donors
Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton, says there is a need for more blood donors in order for the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) to reach its target of 35,000 units.
He pointed out that when the target was set last year, 28,869 units of blood were collected, approximately 6,131 units short.
The minister was speaking at a blood drive and wellness fair in Emancipation Park in New Kingston, to observe World Blood Donor Day yesterday. The fair was held under the theme, Blood Connects Us All.
Tufton said the collection figure must be improved as there was great demand for blood by persons involved in road fatalities and other accidents.
"The rise in motor-vehicle crashes has severe implications on our already burdened health-care system. Public education and more clamping down on road offences will help to reduce this demand for blood," said the minister.
To increase blood donation, Tufton said the ministry will be embarking on a number of activities.
These include establishing hospital transfusion committees, increasing haemo-vigilance in all hospitals, and increasing voluntary donations to at least 25 per cent.
Tufton lauded the work of the NBTS, particularly for creating national awareness on World Blood Donor Day.
Meanwhile, director of the NBTS, Dr Veronica Taylor, noted that this year's theme highlights the solidarity between donors and patients.
"Transfusion of blood connects us all. It has a life-changing role," she said.
She encouraged repeat donors to "keep giving the gift of life".
For her part, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/-World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative in Jamaica, Dr Noreen Jack, said blood is a most important element in modern health care.
"There is an urgent need to address the safe-blood issue, which can only be remedied by a constant supply of safe blood from voluntary unpaid donors," she said.
Unveiled at the fair was a Donor Roll of Honour for persons who have donated more than 50 units of blood.