Youth Blood Drive
Blood is the most important gift you can give to a person, the gift of life. The Sir Brian Bell Foundation and Port Moresby General Hospital joined forces in 2016 to launch a new Blood Donation and Health Awareness Campaign: Youth Blood Drive.
The program is aimed at getting the youth of PNG; those aged 16-25 to engage in social responsibility and become lifetime blood donors supporting their communities.
Those involved will also receive a mini-physical examination each time they donate which will provide them an insight into their general health as well as a health education program which will teach students ways to stay healthy and protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.
Donors who donate regularly have overall better health due to regular health screening. Regular blood donation also reduces the chances of heart attack and stroke by 60% and reduces the chance of certain cancers. The PNG population has an overall very low understanding of the importance of regular blood donation and lack the willingness to donate blood. Mostly they have had little or no exposure to blood donation and as a result are very reluctant to donate blood, particularly people with a lower education background. In 2016 after the program was launched, we exposed over 15,000 students to Blood Drives, which is 400 % more effective than centre collection and over 40% more effective than Corporate Blood Drives. We had addressed at least 7000 students during assemblies and classroom visits with messages about health and healthy diet in hopes to improve the future health of the current generation significantly and we partnered with various community events and projects including NCDC Youth Day Festival, Film Festival, Independence Day Celebration, Urban Youth Training Program, and Twilight Basketball.
Donors who had early exposure to blood donation are most likely to donate again; that is why Youth Blood Drive is extremely important in nurturing a new generation of donors. In 2016, 2184 bags of blood were collected, at least 25 secondary schools, colleges, and universities. In promoting engagement of the program, school principals are gifted with a YBD bag, shirt, cap, and other YBD items.
Based on 2015 / 2016 results, more than 40% of people were deferred, i.e. cannot donate due to various health issues such as anaemia (low iron level), high blood pressure, medical history, etc. A large proportion of the PNG population suffer from various and previously undetected (and therefore untreated) infections and illnesses that stop them from donating blood, including transfusion transmittable infections (TTIs) – (20% of the population), high blood pressure, anaemia (40% -mostly women), HIV (0.9- 1.6%). Blood Collection nurses are in many cases, the only health practitioners that most people in PNG will meet in their lifetime. Further, on average 24-30% of collected blood is discarded due to testing positive for Transfusion Transmittable Infections (Syphilis, Hepatitis), and HIV (1.6% for Centre blood collection and 0.9% for Mobile Collections). Blood Drives are not all about collecting blood – it is about education on each individual’s health status, on healthy lifestyle and preventative health measures.
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