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JIS News

The re-launch of the National Volunteer Blood Donor Programme will be among several initiatives lined up for the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) next month.
These initiatives are set to coincide with the build up for the start of the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) in March this year.
Director of the NBTS, Dr. Lundie Richards anticipates that the re-launch of the programme as well as other promotional activities will stimulate an increase in the intake of blood at the bank, to ensure an adequate supply of the precious commodity should any incident or accidents occur during the hosting of the event.
“We expect that persons will come out and donate, especially at that time. We will be doing a lot of promotions tied in with the beginning of the Cricket World Cup,” he told JIS News.
“A lot of people will be coming into the country at the same time, so we will need to have ample blood available for our people to use as well as for visitors, should the need arise,” Dr. Richards noted, adding that the importation of blood was not considered as an early option, if there was little response to the programme.
The Director said that prior to the launch, the NBTS in partnership with other entities, such as the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), would conduct sensitization workshops targeting health care workers and also the media, especially those who report on health issues.
“We are going to have a special workshop for them so that they, who are out in the public, will in turn be able to sensitize the public and help us as we move forward as an organization and as a nation,” he said.
“The important message is that Jamaicans need to recognize that if you do not donate blood, it may not be there when you may need it,” Dr. Richards warned. Back in March 2003, the Ministry of Health, through the NTBS, embarked on the National Volunteer Blood Donor Programme, which was a crucial, full-scale campaign to promote voluntary blood donations, as opposed to replacement donations, which have, over the years caused a severe strain on the country’s blood demand.
The programme was developed as a response to the steady decline in the number of donors and potential blood donors, because of health issues due to an increase in chronic diseases and risky behaviours. As a result, the country is currently meeting an average of 60 per cent of the demand for blood.
Highlights of the programme back then included improved donor recruitment through mass education and collaboration with service clubs and other community based organisations; continuous donor motivation through annual awards and incentive packages, as well as staff training, aimed at improving customer service skills.
Other aspects included the reactivation of the National Advisory Council; Hospital Transfusion Committees, and the introduction of new legislation governing the operations of the NBTS.