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Give blood, save lives: Seychelles moving out to meet blood donors halfway

Victoria, Seychelles | June 15, 2014, Sunday @ 17:29 in National » HEALTH | By: Alessandra Arrigo | Views: 3257
Give blood, save lives: Seychelles moving out to meet blood donors halfway

The first mobile blood donor van in Seychelles (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - The act of giving blood is not something the majority of the Seychelles population give much thought to in spite of the constant media appeals by health officials for blood donors, neither does a large majority of the world’s population for that matter.

It is only when the need strikes close to home, when a close friend or family member is hospitalized, that the importance of blood donation is seriously considered.

The trend might change in the Indian Ocean archipelago, home to some 90, 000  people now that the Seychelles Ministry of Health will be able to go to potential donors in the communities, instead of them being asked to come to the hospital for this charitable gesture that can save lives.

The ministry has received its first blood transfusion vehicle which will facilitate this task.

The mobile blood donor van is worth around $112, 500 and was gifted by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO liaison officer for Seychelles, Dr. Cornelia Atsyor chose yesterday June 14 which is World Blood Donor Day,  to hand over the vehicle to the Chief Executive of the Health Care Agency, Dr. Suresh Menon .

“WHO will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Health and other sectors on health and health related issues to bring better health outcomes to the Seychellois,” said Dr Atsyor noting that recent analysis conducted by the WHO office has shown that for over two decades, it has provided some $ 17.9 million as grants to the archipelago’s Ministry of Health excluding funding for technical assistance.

Dr Menon gets the new keys from Dr Atsyor (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: Attribution

The reality of Blood shortage in Seychelles lies in the fact that while the actual need is estimated at 3,000 units and rising each year, the Ministry of Health receives only about 1,500 units of blood annually from a handful of donors.

It’s mostly relatives of patients needing blood for example for surgery who are donating blood alongside some regular donors who are making this gesture every three or four months.

While there is a shortfall of 1,500 blood units annually to satisfy the blood bank it’s mainly the negative blood types that are lacking.

With its new blood transfusion vehicle the archipelago’s Health Ministry is hoping to entice more people by envisaging special outreach programmes to promote blood donations. 

“With this vehicle, we will now be able to go to the volunteers instead of waiting for them to come to the hospital. We are mainly targeting people who are the employed in different companies and organizations,” Yvonne Bristol, the Nurse Manager at the Blood Transfusion Centre at the Seychelles Hospital, told SNA.

Bristol said this will make it easier to reach the goal of having the required 3,000 blood units annually in the island’s blood bank.

Despite the challenge the Ministry is grateful to those who are conscious of the importance of such an act as giving blood and this appreciation was showcased as the Seychelles Health Care Agency rewarded over three hundred people who have voluntarily donated blood on a regular basis over the past years. 

Some of these blood donors have donated between 5 to 49 units of blood while a group attributed as Top Donors have donated over 50 to 91 units of blood. 

They received bronze, silver certificates and gold certificates accordingly a well as gifts sponsored by various local companies.

Top Donors pose with their certificates together with health officials. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: Attribution

With blood donation being a key element of Health care services the Ministry of Health has reiterated its appeal for more healthy individuals, aged 18 to 64 years old to come forward and donate blood.

Needless to say though, Seychelles is not alone in this quest as other developing countries are also experience a shortage of blood in cases of emergency.

One of the groups at risk when there is a lack of blood available is pregnant women and that is why WHO is this year focusing on "Safe blood for saving mothers" as World Blood Donor Day is commemorated.

“Every day, about 800 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. Severe bleeding during delivery and after childbirth is a major cause of mortality, morbidity and long-term disability. The goal of the campaign is to increase awareness about why timely access to safe blood and blood products is essential for all countries as part of a comprehensive approach to prevent maternal deaths,” says WHO.

According to WHO figures around 108 million units of donated blood are collected globally every year with nearly 50 percent of these blood donations collected in high-income countries, home to less than 20 percent of the world’s population.


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Tags: blood transfusion, World Health Organisation

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