Blood Donation Awareness Increases

June 20, 2018 | UN House, Pulchowk

Kathmandu-based Central Blood Transfusion Service (CBTS), a division of Nepal Red Cross Society (NCRS), held a blood donation program inside United Nations (UN) Country Office, Pulchowk. The program was organized by the Federation of United Nations Staff Association – Nepal (FUNSA- N), in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) – Nepal and UN Clinic.

“This is an important initiation for a life-saving cause”, began Rogi Shrestha, Supervising Clinician at the donation program. The program saw a higher number of participation than last year’s program which was also held inside the UN country office. 68 units of blood were collected at the event, and Shrestha recommends more organizations to hold such programs.

During the fiscal year of 2017 - 2018, CBTS had also collected 2,36,799 units of blood throughout the country, an increment of about 2.5% over the collection of the previous year. They had also supplied 3,37,321 units of blood to the needy patients. CBTS had already collected 317 units of blood from 5 various programs held inside Kathmandu to commemorate World Blood Donor Day (WBDD).

The annual progress report (2016 / 17) prepared by National Blood Transfusion Service, NCRS, also stated that donations have been increasing annually, and elaborates, “Thanks to UN marking a day for voluntary blood donors and blood donation, we see more encouragement, and hence, increased participation.” The program had also motivated Machakaji Dangol, UNDP Driver, to donate blood for the 121st time. “Blood is irreplaceable. It’s a simple act that can actually save somebody’s life”, he explains.

The organizers conducted the blood donation program after a line of other events from June 14 which marks WBBD. The day, marked since 2004, serves to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products, and to thank blood donors for their voluntary, life-saving gifts of blood. WBDD is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Tuberculosis Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Hepatitis Day, and World AIDS Day.

The theme for 2018’s WBDD was “Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life.” The donation was attended by staff members from different UN agencies such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP), The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), Standard Chartered Bank, International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Resident Coordinator Office, UN Common Services, UN Women, and WHO.

“The more you give, the more you get”, continued Anjali Gurung, Chairwoman of the FUNSA - N and Senior Business Support Association at WFP, as she encouraged all her colleagues to donate, “A lot of people are in need.” Such donations help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with higher quality of life, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures.

“The day is not just about collecting blood, but also about increasing awareness on why it is important to donate blood”, stated Dr. Jos Vandelaer, WHO – Nepal Country Representative, at the event. The CBTS clinicians prioritized the importance of separating blood into it various components – a process that allows patients to receive only the plasma, platelet, red or white cells they require, leaving the rest to be used as and where needed. Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, had also emphasized such procedures in her media statement, and addressed that members states of WHO should strive to limit the need for blood products in the first place, which can be done by providing high-quality essential services – including antenatal care, disease screening and diagnosis, and health promotion and counselling - so that there is no requirement for blood transfusion.

The NCRS report also stated that CBTS, so far being the only referral center for the whole country, has been planning not only to upgrade the center but upgrade regional blood centers of Biratnagar, Pokhara, Nepalgunj, and Chitwan. It is also considering the possibilities of upgrading the Dharan and Dhangadhi blood centers in view of the establishments there of major hospitals and coverage area.

“It is very encouraging to see the enthusiasm of people willing to donate blood today. Clearly, everyone realizes they can literally save lives”, stated Dr. Vandelaer, as he rolled up his sleeve to donate blood.

NCRS and WHO – Nepal had also supported blood donation programs in Birgunj with Blood Donation Association of Nepal (BLODAN) – Parsa, The Nepalese Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), National Bureau for Blood Transfusion Services (NBBTS), and National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL). The 3-day event commemorated “World Blood Donor Day” with a local college debate competition at Birgunj Public College, an interaction program with local students and clinicians, and multiple blood donation drives. Booklets on surveillance procedures to better manage and regulate blood transfusion chains, produced by the MoHP and WHO – Nepal, were also distributed.