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KINGSTON — Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jean Dixon, contends that the National Blood Transfusion Service's (NBTS) target, of collecting some 50,000 units of blood annually, is achievable.

Speaking at the launch of the NBTS’ website at the Ministry, King Street, downtown Kingston, on Tuesday June 14, Dr. Dixon noted that approximately 28,000 units of blood were collected in 2010.

She pointed out that the NBTS has seen a “steady increase” in annual blood collection over the past three years. However, while commending the efforts which yielded last year’s intake, she lamented that Jamaica was still short of the target of the 50,000 units needed to ensure that surgical and medical procedures are not compromised.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that blood donations by, at least, one per cent of the population, is generally sufficient to meet a country’s basic requirement for safe blood,” she stated.

Dr. Dixon said the launch of the website, which will provide relevant data on the NBTS’ blood collection activities and as well as serve as a guide for persons logging on, is a “timely and symbolic gesture” which, among other things, affords an opportunity to salute donors who have consistently and voluntarily given blood.

 She also appealed to persons who do not donate blood, but are capable of doing so, to “give the gift of life” and help to secure the health of the nation.

“Many of our children, who undergo heart surgeries, are dependent on blood to have a safe and successful operation. We hope that our young people will be encouraged to develop a culture of voluntary, non-remuneration blood donation,” Dr. Dixon said.

Modernization Manager, National Laboratory Services, NBTS, Dr. Lundie Richards, endorsed Dr. Dixon’s appeal. He disclosed that about 40,000 persons responded to the NBTS’ appeal last year to donate blood, which yielded the just over 28,000 units collected.

“But, we have a very stringent system to ensure that we collect safe blood that can be transfused into someone. We also recognize that the donors’ safety is also paramount, and, as such, only 28,000 units of blood were collected last year, He stated.

He added that since the NBTS was established in 1948, high standards of donor recruitment and retention have ensured a blood transfusion safety record comparable to the highest international standards.

Noting that up to May 31, just under 12,000 units of blood had been collected; Dr. Richards contended that the annual target was achievable.

“But, we need to continue to work hard, and we hope that this (website) will catapult us towards getting even more than 28,000 units. This can be achieved if we have persons turning out to give blood, as some of our esteemed donors,” Dr. Richards asserted.

Acting PAHO/World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Jamaica, Dr. Jean Marie Rwangabwoba, said the agency welcomed the opportunity to participate in the national blood collection effort, pointing to the great need to improve blood donations.

She said that she was very encouraged to see the Ministry of Health’s committed to this important activity.

“We are committed to continue working with the Ministry and the NBTS, to make sure that Jamaica continues to receive high quality blood, in quantities which are adequate for the need that the population experiences,” Dr. Rwangabwoba assured..

 

By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter