Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, is calling for more Jamaicans to donate blood in order to ensure adequate supply of blood and blood products for life-saving interventions.
She is assuring that the process is safe even as the country grapples with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS), in these times, has put in place safety measures to ensure that the donation process is with minimal exposure to COVID -19, so persons can feel safe to come out to donate,” Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie said.
The CMO was speaking at the World Blood Donor Day awards ceremony held on Monday (June 15) at the NBTS’s Slipe Pen Road address in Kingston.
Acting Director, NBTS, Dr. Alisha Tucker, in her remarks, said that the entity is guided by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) COVID-19 safety protocols.
“They have provided ongoing guidelines as it relates to donor recruitment, blood supply and safety during this period… . They have assisted in our efforts to increase awareness of the population to continue to donate despite the circumstance, as the need still persists for blood,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Medical Doctor, National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS), Danielle Levy , she said that adequate supply of safe blood can only be assured through regular donations by volunteers.
“Donations are important now because we are still in a shortage. It is not as bad now as when COVID-19 just started, but we still have a shortage…The numbers in April indicate that of the number of requests that we got from hospitals, we were able to fulfil 55 per cent of that.
“Ideally, we would like to supply 100 per cent; our target would be about 75 per cent,” she said.
The World Blood Donor Day awards ceremony, under the theme ‘Safe Blood Saves Live’,’ saw the presentation of trophies and plaques to donors whose contributions have surpassed 50 units.
Those recognised included the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), Department of Correctional Services (DCS), secondary schools as well as advocacy groups and individuals.
Officially designated by the World Health Assembly in 2005, the day, observed annually on June14, seeks to encourage persons to make regular, voluntary blood donations.
World Blood Donor Day also seeks to raise awareness about the global need for safe blood and how everyone can contribute.