NBTS Collects 28,271 Units of Blood

Photo: Barbara Ellington Persons donate blood inside the ballroom of the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, Manchester, on World Blood Donor Day, June 14.

Story Highlights

  • Acting Director of Health Promotion and Protection in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Beverley Wright, says 28,271 units of blood were collected by the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) in 2016, some 6,229 units short of the target of 35,000.
  • Addressing the World Blood Donor Day opening ceremony at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville on June 14, Dr. Wright emphasised that access to safe blood and blood products in sufficient quantities is a key component of an effective health system.
  • She congratulated the Southern Regional Health Authority for its successful staging of the ‘One Love, One Blood’ drive, adding that there is still a long way to go, but the Mandeville Regional Hospital is leading the way.

Acting Director of Health Promotion and Protection in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Beverley Wright, says 28,271 units of blood were collected by the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) in 2016, some 6,229 units short of the target of 35,000.

She pointed out that last year’s double threats of the Zika and H1N1 viruses placed additional strain on the system, affecting the number of units collected.

Addressing the World Blood Donor Day opening ceremony at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville on June 14, Dr. Wright emphasised that access to safe blood and blood products in sufficient quantities is a key component of an effective health system.

“Each person should have access to sufficient blood if the need arises. The Ministry of Health, through the NBTS, remains committed to encouraging regular blood donation, through public education on the importance of donating. Voluntary blood donation is the key to ensuring an adequate and safe supply,” Dr. Wright said.

“We are reassuring everyone that we remain committed to the safety of their blood supply, and we carry out routine testing of our blood products,” she added.

Through partnerships with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), National Health Fund (NHF) and others, the NBTS has been able to achieve some success in encouraging blood donors to come forward, and staging 108 voluntary blood drives in 2016, a five per cent increase over 2015.

She congratulated the Southern Regional Health Authority for its successful staging of the ‘One Love, One Blood’ drive, adding that there is still a long way to go, but the Mandeville Regional Hospital is leading the way.

Health Promotion and Public Relations Manager for the NHF, Shermaine Robotham, speaking on behalf of the CEO of the NHF, Everton Anderson, said one of the hindrances to giving blood is low haemoglobin levels.

“Our screening results from Community Health Days conducted in 76 communities all over Jamaica for 2016, showed that 50 per cent of persons who were screened had low haemoglobin levels.

Nearly 6,000 persons received tests for iron levels and approximately 3,000 had low iron levels,” Mr. Anderson noted.

He also pointed out that last year, 1,000 or 27 per cent of nearly 3,700 high-school students screened had low iron levels.

Mr. Anderson underscored the NHF’s commitment to partnering with the NBTS to encourage students aged 17 and older to give blood, and that the NHF would now be inviting the NBTS to accompany them on school visits, so that they can educate students with low haemoglobin levels how to increase it.

“We hope that once students have successfully given blood, they will make it a habit for life. The NHF is also interested in promoting blood donation because many of the individuals with chronic illnesses, such as cancer and sickle cell, will need blood transfusion to save their lives,” he said.

Also addressing the ceremony was Chief Executive Officer of the Mandeville Regional Hospital, Alwyn Miller, who commended the hospital’s team for supporting the drive by the NBTS.

He noted that the ‘One Love, One Blood’ drive in 2016 saw scores turning out to donate blood, which resulted in Manchester surpassing all other parishes in blood collection for that year.

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