Guyana currently boasts “an excellent 100 percent record of voluntary blood donation”. This is according to the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) Director, Dr. Pedro Lewis, who is of the firm belief that the rate of volunteerism has placed Guyana in a very privileged position.
The NBTS Director attributed this to the strong sense of empathy among Guyanese. “It’s a cultural thing,” Dr. Lewis said, explaining the longevity of volunteerism among the thousands of annual voluntary donors who back the country’s ongoing blood donation drives.
Dr. Lewis called for “more community involvement” in the process since the country is moving towards establishing a trauma centre at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
“We will need more blood to sustain a trauma unit,” Dr. Lewis said making his pitch for a spike in grassroots support for the NBTS.
He lauded the 450 collaborators who help organise the year-round, nation-wide blood donation drive necessary to maintain a sufficient blood supply and achieve universal and timely access to safe blood transfusions in the nation’s health system.
According to the World Health Organisatoin (WHO), “An adequate and reliable supply of safe blood can be assured by a stable base of regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donors. These donors are also the safest group of donors as the prevalence of blood-borne infections is lowest among this group.”
World Health Assembly (WHA), an arm of the WHO, also “urges all Member States to develop national blood systems based on voluntary unpaid donations and to work towards the goal of self-sufficiency.” It said that the risk of transmission of serious infections, including HIV and hepatitis, through unsafe blood and chronic blood shortages brought global attention to the importance of blood safety and availability.
Emphasis in this regard comes even as Guyana joins the rest of the world to celebrate International Blood Donation Day which is being observed this year under the theme ‘Safe Blood For All’. The theme was chosen to “encourage more people around the world to become donors and to make regular donations, actions that are the cornerstone to create a solid base on which to establish a sustainable blood supply at the national level that will allow the transfusion needs of all patients.”
International Blood Donation Day is observed in the global bid to raise awareness of the universal need for safe blood in the delivery of health care and the essential role of voluntary donations in achieving the goal of universal health coverage.
As part of the observance here, the NBTS expects receiving some 12,000 units of blood from volunteers across the country today and, according to Dr. Lewis, 80 percent or 9,600 units of blood will be given by volunteers residing in Demerara/Mahaica (Region Four).