Windhoek, 14 June 2017 – The World Health Organization Namibia country office in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) and the Namibia Blood Transfusion Services (NAMBTS) on 14 June commemorated the World Blood Donor Day. The event, which serves to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood, saw blood recipients giving testimonies and donors being honoured with certificates. The commemoration was held at the NAMBTS office premises. Speaking at the event, the WHO Representative in Namibia, Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses said blood transfusion is a core service within health care systems and individuals who donate their blood provide a unique contribution to the health and survival of others. He said that Namibia, like many other countries, faces an ongoing challenge in collecting a sufficient blood supply from safe donors to meet the national requirements. “The donation of blood by voluntary non-remunerated blood donors is recognized as crucial for the safety and sustainability of national blood supplies”, he said. He also advised that in order to ensure safety and a quality outcome, blood supplies and patient blood management should follow updated regulatory requirements and draw from the best available evidence.
Speaking at the same event, the Blood Transfusion and Training Senior Medical Officer at the MOHSS, Dr Britta Lohrke said only less than one per cent of Namibia’s population donates blood regularly. “Patients need this gift of blood and we are thankful to the donors for this important gift”, she expressed. It was reported that at least 21 365 Namibians donate blood regularly and while this number is small as a percentage, the nation is fortunate because majority of those who donate regularly are Type O. The Type O Blood group, Lohrke said, is referred to as emergency blood as it can be transfused to almost any patient in need of blood in the event of an emergency. “That type is what we mostly need in Namibia because most hospitals cannot identify which blood is needed for which patient, so a lot of Type O Blood is used”, she emphasized. This year’s campaign focuses on blood donation in emergencies. The slogan is: What can you do?, with the secondary message: Give blood. Give now. Give often. With the view to encourage people to become regular blood donors, Dr Lohrke said individuals interested in donating blood should be older than 16 years, weigh more than 50 kilogrammes, lead a sexually safe lifestyle and enjoy general good health. WHO Namibia Country office has been supporting the Namibia Blood Transfusion Services in increasing awareness on the importance of blood donation and increasing supply of blood products especially during the festive season to prevent the usual low supply of blood products during these seasons.