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A draft national policy on blood transfusion and protocols for blood collection is currently being prepared for submission to Cabinet.

This was disclosed by Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, as he addressed the official launch of World Blood Donor Day 2013 at Emancipation Park in Kingston yesterday (June 14).

The policy is part of a national strategy to ensure access to safe and reliable blood supply and to achieve 100 per cent voluntary blood donation.

“It is also noteworthy that in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), a five-year strategic plan has been developed and will be implemented immediately. This plan hinges on voluntary blood donation as the critical pillar that will ensure sufficiency, quality, access and equity,” the Minister informed.

He also voiced his full support of the drive to increase the level of voluntary unpaid blood donation.

“This represents a better path, along with the necessary testing and control measures to ensure adequate, safe blood supply for those who use our health services. This is my commitment,” he said.

The Minister said he was heartened that the team at the National Blood Transfusion Service has as part of its mission, the attainment of the World Health Organization (WHO) goal of 100 per cent voluntary unpaid donation by 2020, moving from the present 20 per cent.

Director, PAHO, Dr. Carissa Etienne, commended the Government and people of Jamaica for the many achievements that have been made over time, particularly through the National Blood Transfusion Service.

She noted that PAHO has worked alongside the Ministry of Health and its partners in ensuring the development of the transfusion service in Jamaica.

“PAHO has recognised Jamaica’s expertise and commitment and has invited Jamaica’s participation in PAHO’s expert committee for the development of a new Regional Plan for Blood Safety for 2014-2018, as well as an invitation and full participation on PAHO’s technical working group to revise the Caribbean Regional Standards for Blood Banks and Transfusion Services,” she said.

Jamaica joined rest of world in celebrating World Blood Donor Day which aims to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank voluntary unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.

The Day also sought to promote voluntary unpaid blood donation; and to convince Ministers of Health worldwide to make a commitment to achieving self‑sufficiency in safe blood and blood products through 100 per cent voluntary non-remunerated blood donations.

Jamaica hosted the official launch of the Day for the region of the Americas with the event being streamed live to 39 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.The Global host country for this year is France.

This is the10th anniversary of the Day which was established by the World Health Assembly in 2004, and is being observed under the theme: Give the Gift of Life – Donate Blood.

CONTACT: ALECIA SMITH-EDWARDS