World Blood Donor Day takes place on 14 June each year. The annual highlight aims to raise global awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion. Additionally, it highlights the critical contribution voluntary, unpaid blood donors make to national health systems. Each year, people are encouraged to help national blood transfusion services and blood donor organisations strengthen and expand their voluntary blood donor programmes by reinforcing national and local campaigns.
Any therapeutic substance obtained from human blood is referred to as a blood product. Every year, these products save millions of lives. They improve the life expectancy and quality of life of people suffering from life-threatening illnesses and enable complicated medical and surgical procedures.
Although there is a universal need for blood, not everyone has access to it. Blood scarcity is most acute in low- and middle-income nations. Thus, countries like Jamaica need voluntary unpaid blood donors who give blood regularly. This ensures that everyone who requires a transfusion has access to safe blood.
2022 National Focus
The Theme for World Blood Donor Day 2022 is “Donating blood is an act of solidarity. Join the effort and save lives.” Correspondingly, this year, as part of Jamaica’s local recognition of World Blood Donor Day (WBDD), the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) and the Ministry of Health and Wellness opened to the public its newest blood collection centre at the Spanish Town Hospital. This well-needed establishment came just as the hospital prepares to celebrate its Platinum Anniversary this weekend. Accordingly, among those present at the ceremony were Custos Rotolorum of St. Catherine, Hon. Icylin Golding, Councillor of the Angels Division, Patricia Harris, Director of the NBTS, Dr Natalie Sharpe, St. Catherine Festival Queen Khdrea Jones and The Hon. Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, Minister of State, Health & Wellness. Likewise, the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Jacqueline Ellis, and Senior Medical Officer, Jacqueline Wright James, were also in attendance.
The Hon. Icylin Golding commended the Ministry of Health for recognising and acting on this critical need. She expressed that the collection centre will provide easier access for donors to donate blood. She further committed to continue advocating the importance of donating blood and urged the residents of St. Catherine to do the same. Representing His Worship The Mayor Councillor Norman Scott Councillor Patricia Harris reiterated the importance of World Blood Donor Day and thanked donors for their priceless voluntary services. She lauded the efforts of the NBTS in establishing the centre as residents of St. Catherine previously had to travel to Kingston to make donations.
The Importance of the Blood Donation
During her speech, the State Minister described blood as a “critical life-saving element of public health”. Mrs Cuthbert-Flynn also highlighted the importance of blood to women during pregnancy and childbirth. This, according to the Minister, is due to the risks and harm women are exposed to when receiving care during childbirth.
“In addition, many newborn babies encounter challenges in the first few days of life. They too need blood, along with children undergoing surgeries, individuals with leukaemia and other cancers, people suffering from heart and cardiovascular diseases, trauma cases, accident victims and people undergoing advanced medical and surgical procedures,” she said. She ended by applauding those who advocate and encourage others to participate in the life-saving practice of giving blood.
Data from the National Blood Transfusion Service shows that in April 2020, 55% of all hospital blood requests were met, with people aged 20 to 40 identified as the main donors. Therefore, to donate blood, members of the public may visit any blood collection centres listed at www.nbts.gov.jm.