Bhutan has currently achieved 77 percent blood donations from the voluntary non-remunerated blood donors, health minister Tandin Wangchuk said during an event to observe World Blood Donor Day at the Clock Tower Square in Thimphu yesterday.

“Bhutan is committed to achieving 100 percent voluntary non-remunerated blood donors by 2020,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk said that increase in chronic non-communicable diseases such as cancer, kidney and liver diseases that require multiple blood transfusion as part of the patient management led to increase in blood requirement in the country.

“Bhutan is experiencing an increase in the road traffic accidents, which increase the demand for blood. Pregnancy and child birth-related complications add to this burden,” Lyonpo said.

Of 180 volunteers who turned up for the donation, some 109 donated blood during the event. Some 71 donors were deferred from donating because of low blood pressure and haemoglobin counts.

Similar campaigns were also conducted in Kanglung, Phuentsholing and Tsirang.

There were more than 100 volunteers who turned up to donate in Kanglung but only 69 individuals donated.

Some 50 people each turned up for donation in Tsirang and Phuentsholing but only 40 and 35 individuals donated blood.

The programme officer for blood safety programme, Sonam Wangda, said that the requirement of blood in the hospitals is increasing. “The country requires about 10,000 units of blood every year, which is about 1 to 2 percent of the country’s population.”

Lyonpo awarded certificates of appreciation to 16 regular blood donors and five donor organisations for their valuable contribution.

Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk said that regular voluntary blood donors are the safest source of blood, as there are fewer blood-borne infections among these donors. “Blood collection from voluntary non-remunerated blood donors is the cornerstone of a safe and sufficient blood supply.”

Transfusion specialist with the national blood bank, Dr Mahrukh Getshen, said that every year, the blood donor day provides an opportunity to thank all the blood donors, blood recruiters, blood donor organisations for continuously supporting and working closely with blood banks in the country.

She said that blood, as an essential component of emergency health care, must be made available and accessible during the first golden hour of emergency management to save lives.

The global focus this year is on blood donation during emergencies.

Dr Mahrukh Getshen said the campaign underlines the role played by every single person as a blood donor in times of a disaster and emergency situation. “Even though that person may not be directly or indirectly affected by the disaster, the message clearly focuses on the importance of regular blood donation so that blood banks are sufficiently stocked with blood units and blood components during an emergency.”

Meanwhile, as a part of the celebration, national blood transfusion website was launched and a blood donor motivation video was also released.

Dr Mahrukh Getshen said that the website can be used by donors and donor organisations for registering, making appointments and organising blood camps in coordination with the blood banks. “It is also a medium for accessing general information on blood, blood donation and blood transfusion,” she said.

Dechen Tshomo