KINGSTON – The mobile collection services of the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) have been boosted with the addition of a 15 seater bus, which will be used to conduct blood drives islandwide.
Addressing the handing over ceremony at the NBTS, Slipe Road, Kingston on Wednesday March 23, Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, said that the vehicle, valued at $2.9 million, will help the mobile unit to go a far way with the collection of blood.
Mr. Spencer noted that conservative estimates, based on the number of injury cases seen each year, put the country’s immediate needs at approximately 45,000 units of blood annually, but the Ministry only collects an average 25,000 units per annum.
“The collection at most of our centres across the island is far below the usage in those regions. This, inevitably, means that medical and surgical care could be seriously compromised,” he said.
He stated that this was particularly significant, as Jamaicans experience a number of trauma and accident related injuries each year.
“For 2008, our health centres alone saw 3,018 patients for intentional or violence related injuries, an increase of 11.4 per cent when compared to the 2007 figure of 2,709. For unintentional or accident associated injuries, the number of visits was 23,074, moving from 10,847 in 2007,” he said, adding that this does not include the numbers reported to the accident and emergency units at public hospitals.
The Minister said that it is hoped that the vehicle will assist the Ministry’s drive to increase voluntary blood donation, as only about 30 per cent of the blood collected each year is through voluntary donation.
“We are therefore left to depend on replacement donations, which can place not just the patient, but the country’s blood supply in jeopardy,” he said.
Mr. Spencer, while encouraging more persons to give blood, said that Jamaica has a distinguished reputation for providing safe blood, based on international standards.
“Life is unpredictable and being a consistent blood donor is one way to be prepared for any eventuality for your friends, family, your neighbours or even yourself,” he said.
He urged individuals who will be using the bus, to take care of it while ensuring that it is properly maintained and cared for, so that it will be around for an extended period. He also commended the efforts of the NBTS in working tirelessly to increase the cadre of voluntary blood donors and the country’s blood supply.
Acting Director of the National Laboratory Services, Dr. Jennifer Thame, said the vehicle will improve operations at the Blood Bank.
By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter