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PIA Press Release

DOH asks Cebu private firms to support blood donation program

Cebu City (14 February) -- The Department of Health (DOH-7) urged private companies to help the government attain its goal to have available, sufficient and steady supply of blood by initiating blood-letting activities in their workplace.

DOH-7 Health Operations Division Chief Dr. Elaine Teleron in a meeting today with over 25 representatives from the private sector and other stakeholders bared there is an increasing demand for blood but there is a problem with supply.

Teleron said only three to four percent of Filipinos regularly donate blood while the country's annual blood requirement is about 700,000 to 750,000 blood units or a daily collection of 2,232 blood units to ensure the adequacy of blood supply.

Teleron said that with a single donation, one's blood can help as many as three people.

"There is increasing demand for blood especially these days due to the rising cases of dengue," Teleron quoted. Dengue patents in severe cases will need blood transfusion while Central Visayas has the highest fatality rate nationwide in dengue with Cebu City as the hardest hit.

The advocacy campaign for social support to the government's National Voluntary Blood Services Program (NVBSP) is grounded on the aspect of volunteerism where people donate blood for free in order to save lives discouraging commercial blood donors in the process.

DOH-7 NVBSP coordinator Dr. Judith Tawatao in her presentation showed a 1994 DOH-USAID study of the Philippine Banking System which estimate that the country's blood supply fails to meet the yearly requirements by as much as 37 percent.

The same study showed that 70 percent of blood supply is made available through commercial blood banks; 17 percent by the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) and 13 percent by government blood banks. The study concluded that the Philippine Banking System was unsafe, inadequate and wasteful.

In response to the situation, RA 7719 or the 'National Blood Services Act of 1994' was passed which radically changed the blood banking system from a paid system to one that is completely voluntary. Also as a result, commercial blood banks in the country were closed down.

Tawatao however, said there are still people who sell their blood or what is term as commercial blood donors which led the DOH to go high in their education campaign that blood donation is a humanitarian act and should be considered as a community responsibility.

By 2010, the DOH's goal is to establish a completely voluntary, safe, adequate, appropriate and efficient blood transfusion service in the country. The blood center model is envisioned to collect community-based blood donations and conduct centralized testing for any diseases and will be the sole supplier to all government-owned and private hospitals.

Those qualified to become a blood donor should be 16 to 65 years of age; with a blood pressure from 90/60 to 150/90; weight of 100 lbs to 110 lbs depending on the amount of blood to be donated; and a pulse rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Advantages of becoming a donor include free physical examination, free blood typing and testing and most especially, the screening of five blood-transmissible infections such as Hepatitis B, C, Syphyllis, Malaria and HIV-AIDS.

In Cebu, there are three blood bank facilities accredited by the DOH-7 namely the Regional Blood Center, PNRC and the Regional Blood Coordinating Center. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]

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