Today CEHURD joins the world to give a resounding applause to the voluntary unpaid blood donors who answer the call of humanity and save lives that would otherwise perish. This year’s theme for the World Blood Donor Day is “Give Blood and Keep the World Beating” Did you know that one pint of blood that you donate can save 3 lives! In the words of Anne Frank “No one has ever become poor by giving”. We appreciate the thousands of men and women who willingly give this essential life-saving commodity that keeps the world pulsating even amidst this pandemic.
Like many things, the pandemic has impacted on the daily blood collections especially with the closure of schools which are major platforms for blood donation drives. We should not forget that despite the pandemic, life goes on! Women and girls are still giving birth and in need of blood, cancer patients and children with anemia heavily rely on blood and its commodities, not to mention hospitals are still receiving accident victims in need of this life saving commodity.
Blood shortage in health facilities is believed to be one of the major factors contributing to high death rates among women and young girls giving birth. According to the Annual Health Sector Performance Report (AHSPR) 2017/2018, hemorrhage was the leading cause of maternal deaths accounting at 48.5% almost half of the deaths reported. Anemia was also ranked 3rd among the leading causes of death while injuries from road accidents was ranked the 6th which all require availability of blood.
Throughout this pandemic, hospitals have struggled with a critical shortage of blood which is affecting services and putting the lives of many Ugandans at risk every day. It is understandable that all our attention has been turned towards the raving pandemic but 16 women bringing new life into this world today may not see another sunrise because there was no blood to save their lives. Only five pints of blood could save them all. We can all do something to save them!
The Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS) is faced with numerous challenges that make it extremely difficult to meet the national blood collection target which is equivalent to 1% of Uganda’s population per annum as recommended by the World Health Organization. In fact, challenges such as limited funding and lack of human resources were aggravated by the pandemic but UBTS had to innovate to ensure the daily collection continues and that lives are not needlessly lost. They brought blood donation drives closer to the people within communities, called on previous donors and partnered with Organisations to have staff donate blood.
A day like this is meant to raise awareness about the existing need for blood and to appreciate all blood donors for that precious priceless life-saving gift. This life saving commodity cannot be manufactured so CEHURD together with the world is clapping for you and you. A pint of blood can go so far! May we all continue to keep the world beating by giving!You can book an appointment to give blood by calling The Uganda Blood Transfusion Services on their toll free line O800 122 422.
The writer is a Senior program officer at the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD).