Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Businesses can do more to alleviate Blood Shortage

By Dong Won Lee

Blood is a precious resource and a life-saving input in medical emergencies. But since there is no synthetic substitute, human blood is a scarce commodity. There is a high demand for safe, compatible blood in many countries Kenya included. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Kenya should be collecting one million units of blood per year.

The ministry of health says there is not enough blood for transfusions in the country, calling on more Kenyans to donate blood voluntarily to plug the deficit. Blood is used in critical medical procedures hence the need for a stable, reliable supply. Therefore, donating blood is like giving someone a precious gift.

Millions of people around the world are in need of blood transfusions and without a reliable blood supply and timely access, they may not survive. WHO estimates that 54 per cent of blood transfusions in developing nations like Kenya are administered on children below the age of five, underlining the critical need to save lives through voluntary blood donations.

Since blood has a limited shelf life, regular blood contributions are needed to support patients involved in accidents, surgeries, medical emergencies or have blood disorders like anemia or hemophilia requiring transfusion. With increased prevalence of cancer and other serious ailments, more patients are in need of blood as part of care and therapy.

Donating blood is also part of disaster preparedness as it helps reduce fatalities arising from sudden, unexpected natural or human-driven events. A strong blood bank minimizes frequent calls to the public to give blood whenever tragedies occur. In addition, health experts say giving blood has some benefits to the donor like inducing the production of new red blood cells, besides being a psychologically rewarding experience knowing that you have helped save somebody’s life. It could even be your brother, sister, parent or friend faced with a life-threatening situation.

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), one blood donation can save as many as three lives. Ensuring a safe, sustainable blood supply in communities and countries around the world is therefore a critical goal that cannot be left to governments alone. Businesses have a role in mobilizing individuals and communities to freely donate this vital biological commodity, as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability agenda.

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This includes partnering with government and health institutions to support blood donation drives. In this regard, employees are encouraged to play their part in boosting the national blood bank by regularly volunteering for such activities. For example, LG Electronics recently participated in a blood collection exercise in collaboration with the Kenya Red Cross Society and the Kenya Tissue and Transplant Authority (KTTA). This is part of our CSR goal of contributing positively to communities to make life better for everyone.

Through the initiative, we hope to rally our partners, customers and other sectors of the society to contribute to this noble initiative. Safe and sustainable blood programmes are also integral in realization of the Sustainable Development Goals on reducing maternal mortality, ensuring healthy lives and promoting the overall health and wellbeing of communities.

However, not everyone can donate blood. Factors like age, weight, height and certain medical conditions disqualify people from donating blood.  The blood to be used for transfusions must be free of HIV, syphilis, hepatitis and other diseases. Those in good health and not limited by the above conditions should strive to give blood to save lives.

Availability of blood storage equipment is essential and this is another area where companies can assist. The World Blood Donor Day is celebrated in June of each year. But we should not wait till then to help save a life in danger. The time to give blood is now.

Mr. Lee is LG Regional Managing Director for East Africa

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