UN-Gambia promotes Voluntary Blood Donation in Commemoration of UN Day

Blood donation to save lives, was conceived by the UN Heads of Agencies as part of activities marking UN@74, which is in line with WHO’s challenge to countries to get 100% of their blood from voluntary blood donation.

The World Health Organization Country Office in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH) spearheaded this exercise in Soma District Hospital, Lower River Region of The Gambia. Heads of the different UN Agencies and staff participated in the event.

If availability of blood can save lives why should one die of lack of blood, says Mr. Omar Colley, a voluntary donor who has been donating since 2004 to date. He noted that he has been called upon during emergencies, and the last being to save a woman in labor, who was transported 22 kilometers from her village to the health facility on a donkey cart at about 2:15 am.

Mrs. Sutering Jawo, a mother of two lamented she lost her own sister during childbirth and thanked God and the staff for saving her life through blood transfusion, giving birth to her second child. She said this has given her the motivation and strength to be a voluntary blood donor so as to save would be mother who might find themselves in the critical situation like what she faced 7 years ago.

Because of what I have learnt about frequent blood shortages during emergencies causing loss of lives, I came to donate blood. Now, I want to be part of those saviors only to be told that I am too young to donate. I am disappointed says Ebrima Kambi, a 14 year old grade 9 student. He was thanked for his interest to donate and save life and was convinced that he could donate when he is 16 years and over. As a token of appreciation, he was given a T-shirt before he left.

Indeed, these testimonies demonstrate the commitment of the local community to voluntarily donate blood to save lives. In recognition of their efforts, the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Seraphine Wakana, hailed the voluntary donors assembled at the clinic as she termed them champions in giving out life. She encouraged them to continue donating blood as the lives they save may be their own since no one is immune to emergencies.

The WHO Representative Dr. Desta A. Tiruneh in recognition of Mr. Colley’s outstanding regular donation voluntarily, thanked him sincerely noting that blood is priceless and no amount of money can restore life. He encouraged him to continue the good gesture as well as urged more people to come forward as donors. Mr. Colley was given a T-shirt and a cap as a token for his determination to save lives. Dr. Tiruneh, leading by example, was the 4th donor of the day with other Heads of Agencies testing to know their eligibility.

The Director of the Blood Transfusion Services of the Ministry of Health (MoH) thanked the UN for coming up with this initiative highlighting the importance and need for voluntary blood donation. She also commented that blood transfusion does not only saves life but help to improve the quality of life of patients suffering from life-threatening conditions. She highlighted some of the challenges her unit faces in recruiting blood donors leading to shortages of blood in blood banks. She thanked the voluntary donors for their patriotism to humankind.

The team sensitized, screened and had one-one counseling to determine eligible donors.

The exercise has raised awareness of the need for regular blood donation to ensure all individuals and communities have access to timely supply of safe and quality blood products as a means of achieving Universal Health Coverage.

Source: World Health Organization. Africa