x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Ministry says UAE blood collection system is one of the best in region

The Emirates has done such a good job in promoting blood collection that almost all the blood it collects is from volunteers.

ABU DHABI // The Emirates has done such a good job in promoting blood collection that almost all the blood it collects is from volunteers, according to a Ministry of Health official. The country's blood research and transfusion services, using advanced laboratory and diagnostic technologies, are among the best in the region, said Dr Amin al Amiri, the chairman of the National Committee for Blood Transfusion, in remarks published by the state news agency WAM.

Today is World Blood Donor Day, and Dr al Amiri said figures by the Ministry of Health's Department of Blood Transfusion and Research Services in Sharjah showed that 86,000 blood units were collected nationwide in 2008. UAE nationals led the way in donations. A unit of blood is 450 millilitres. An adult human has roughly 12 units. The performance of the blood services in the UAE had prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to set up a regional centre for blood research and transfusion services in Sharjah, he added.

Studies reveal that some governments perceive the task of mobilising the population to donate blood without payment or family interest as insurmountable. The UAE has shown that it is possible to change donor behaviour in a very short time, according to the WHO. The UAE has long been a leader in the field. It was the first country in the region to stop importing blood in 1984, after the discovery of HIV/Aids.

In 1990, the Government established a national blood transfusion programme and took legislative and policy measures to move to a system of 100 per cent voluntary unpaid blood donation. "The UAE has clearly demonstrated the power of political commitment and community involvement and sets an example we hope other countries will follow," said Neelam Dhingra, the co-ordinator of blood transfusion safety at the WHO.

It is estimated that more than 85 million blood donations are given every year worldwide. Voluntary unpaid donors account for 100 per cent of blood supplies in 57 countries. The global event today will be held in Melbourne, Australia. It is being hosted by the national government in association with the Australian Red Cross and Australian Red Cross Blood Service. rruiz@thenational.ae