South Sudan heightens efforts to increase voluntary blood donation to save lives

Juba I am a regular blood donor and this is my tenth-time donating blood. I having nothing else to offer but blood to save lives. I appeal to more people to come and give more blood, says Rashid a committed blood donor in Juba.

The theme of this year's World Blood donor day Safe blood for all strongly encourages more people all over the world to become blood donors and donate blood regularly. Safe blood for all is critical to achieving health for all.

This year, Ministry of Health of the Republic of South Sudan with support from WHO, South Sudan Red Cross and other partners launched a blood donation drive hosted at the National Blood Transfusion Services in Juba to mark the World blood donor day. The event attracted participation of national and international voluntary donors to give blood. The campaign is set to run in Wau, Torit, Rumbek, Yambio and other states.

Although the number of national voluntary blood donors is gradually increasing, widespread cultural challenges especially beliefs and fears associated with blood transfusion continue to deter enrolment. sharing blood is unnatural and will make you sick, and relatives often refuse to give blood to dying loved ones'. These are some of the beliefs addressed through the drama and songs shared during the campaign. This calls for more community engagement to address the concerns and break these barriers.

South Sudan according to WHO guidelines, should be collecting an estimated 120,000 units for its population of about 12.9 million people. Although the number of units of blood collected per year has gradually increased from 124 units in 2014 to 1,523 units in 2019, the demand is high.

To meet this need, the Government of Japan through WHO has supported the Ministry of Health to scale up the country's blood transfusion services. The national blood transfusion centre was established in Juba in 2014, and additional regional centers have been established in Wau in the north-west part of the country and Malakal in the north-east part to expand the services and improve access to safe blood and blood products.

According to Dr Olushayo Olu, the WHO Country Representative for South Sudan, blood transfusion is critical in ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all, at all ages including the vulnerable population. Timely blood transfusion in the context of South Sudan will contribute to reducing high the maternal mortality, deaths of newborns and children aged under 5; as well deaths from injuries.' He commended all voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood and encouraged them to continue this noble gesture on a regular basis to ensure the continued availability and access to safe.

Note to the editor: The World Blood Donor Day brings a precious opportunity to all donors to celebrate and commemorate the birthday anniversary of Karl Landsteiner (a scientist who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the ABO blood group system).

Source: World Health Organization

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