JIS News

The Jamaica Red Cross has launched Club 25, a blood donation programme, which will target the youth as well as organizations geared towards them.
The programme is also designed for young people to learn about healthy lifestyles and share what they have learnt with their community. “It will also involve nutrition, sexual reproductive health education and it will involve abstinence from drug use and abstinence from sex or protecting yourself during sex,” said Director of the HIV and Youth programme at the Red Cross, Marvin Gunter.
Mr. Gunter, who was speaking at the launch of the programme at the Knutsford Court Hotel recently, explained that the main objective of the initiative is to establish a cohort of regular, safe, non-remunerated blood donors among young people, by encouraging them to give 20 to 25 donations of blood by the age of 25.
“We will simply invite our young people wherever they are captive, to sign on by filling in a registration form, which will basically commit them to giving 25 donations of blood before they become 25 years old,” he said.
“Our branches [Red Cross] across the country will coordinate the dissemination of these forms to the young people wherever they are gathered,” Mr. Gunter expounded.
The roll out of the programme will be in phases, starting “with the young people that we have captive now and it will expand to involve members from other agencies such as 4H Clubs and Girls Guide to also sign on to the programme,” he said.
“We will have them brought together in intervals in a similar way as the youth of the Jamaica Red Cross so that they can benefit from the healthy lifestyle component,” Mr. Gunter added.
Jamaica Red Cross will also seek to work closely with other entities such as the Ministry of Education and Youth, Children First and JA Style (a Ministry of Health healthy lifestyle initiative for young adults), among several others in the rolling out of the Club 25 programme. Also providing assistance to the venture will be a sister programme called ‘The Jamaica Red Cross Together We Can HIV Programme,’ which has a plethora of people, both young and elderly, who are trained as HIV instructors. “We will be calling on these resources all across Jamaica so that we can facilitate satellite groups of young people in this Club 25 for that type of learning [associated with a healthy lifestyle],” he noted. A manual will also be developed to supplement information provided by the HIV instructors and will be distributed across Jamaica.
It is expected that partnership with the National Blood Transfusion Service will assist in the monitoring of the programme. “We will be able to inform the public on a biannual basis how many pints of blood are collected from the initiative,” Mr. Gunter said.
On the matter of funding, he informed that this had yet to be identified, however he remained hopeful that several organizations would sign on to the programme eventually.
So far, some 12 persons have indicated their commitment to be a part of Club 25, by registering.

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