World Blood Donor Day: UN staff donates blood

SZL_unct_Blood donor dayHealth workers marching during the commemoration of the the World Blood donor day. WHO©2017


To commemorate World Blood Donor Day, the United Nations Swaziland staff responded to the call to donate blood to save lives. A total of 22 UN staff donated blood and Heads of Agencies led by example and were the first to donate. The blood was collected by a team from the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) at the UN offices. This was the first time hosting such an event and it was therefore suggested that this should be made a regular event. The country's health system requires about 21 000 units of blood per year. 

However, the National Blood Transfusion Services collects about 15 000 units of blood per year mainly from low risk blood donors, particularly school children. The big challenge therefore is that the demand for quality and safe blood exceeds supply. An adequate and reliable supply of safe blood can only be assured by a stable base of regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donors.

World Blood Donor Day is commemorated annually on June 14. The theme for this year's World Blood Donor Day was “Don't wait until disaster strikes. What can you do? Give blood, Give now, Give often”. The main objective of the event was to encourage the Swazi adult population to donate blood and the UN staff in particular to become regular, voluntary blood donors.

The major highlight of the day was voluntary blood donation by the United Nations staff. This was a well appreciated noble initiative from the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office in the spirit of Delivering as One (DaO) and through the leadership of the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) and the coordination of the UN Cares and the United Nations Communications Group (UNCG). 

This day started with a march across Mbabane town which was led by the Royal Swaziland Police band and drum majorettes from MDS High School.  The march was attended by staff from the World health organisation (WHO) and other UN agencies, the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders. The aim was to raise awareness among the general public on the importance of voluntary, regular blood donations to maintain sufficient stock of blood and blood products in blood transfusion services. It was also an opportunity to thank and appreciate voluntary blood donors for their valuable blood gifts.

The marchers convened at the Swaziland National Blood Transfusion Service where the Honourable Minister of Health, Senator Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane, representative from the Ministry of Education and Training and the WHO Country Representative, Dr Tigest Ketsela Mengestu encouraged individuals to donate blood. The key message was that blood is the most precious thing in this world a human being has. The blood one donates gives someone another chance at life and one day that someone may be a close relative, a friend, a loved one—or even oneself. 

The WHO representative gave a reassurance that WHO would continue to support all appropriate initiatives aimed at ensuring that safe, life-saving blood and blood products are available for all, particularly those in emergency situations. Meanwhile, Minister of Health Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane who was represented by Under Secretary Khabonina Mabuza emphasized that the need for adequate supply of blood requires a well-organised blood service which can only be ensured by engaging the entire community and a blood donor population committed to voluntary unpaid blood donation throughout the year.