Antara News, Fardah, Saturday, February 6, 2010 17:54 WIB
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - New chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) Jusuf Kalla has urged the public to make donating blood part of their life style and something to be proud of.
Kalla`s appeal is not an exaggeration as according to the World Health Organization (WHO), blood transfusion saves life and improves health.
"Donating blood should become part of people`s life style and an act one can be proud of. People should feel awkward or unhappy if they have not donated blood," Kalla, a former vice president, said in Surabaya last Friday (Feb. 5), when visiting the Surabaya Blood Donation Center run by Surabaya`s PMI office.
Donating blood was healthy and should be promoted among all layers of society, including university students, businessmen and professionals, he said.
He suggested that blood donation units be opened in public areas such as shopping
centers to facilitate people who wished to donate blood.
"We (PMI) must approach the public," he said.
On his visit in Surabaya, Kalla was accompanied by representatives of the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) Bob McKerow, and Syver Hvammen of the Norwegian Red Cross.
Surabaya`s PMI office supplies around 400-500 pouches of blood daily to 33 hospitals and community health posts in the country`s second biggest city.
In a dialog with Jusuf Kalla, Herry Hadiwasito, a blood donor, hoped that the PMI could support blood donors by asking government hospitals to give discounts to them.
"We hope that blood donors can get discounts when they are treated at government hospitals," he said.
Kalla responded that donating blood was basically a voluntary act but he promised to discuss what could be done to reward blood donors.
On a separate occasion, Kalla said that although donating blood was voluntary PMI personnel must carry out their tasks professionally and be always ready for action to help people in emergency situations.
"Disasters are unpredictable. Therefore, PMI personnel must always be ready," he said.
"The foundation of PMI is humanitarian but it must be managed professionally, not socially. So, PMI is like the cooperative movement, from the people and for the people," he said.
He also hoped that PMI could improve its performance and facilities in order to encourage the public to donate. PMI tasks basically consists of two, blood transfusion and disaster emergency handling.
However, he asked PMI personnel to also help the communities face any emergency situations. For instance in case of dengue fever outbreaks, PMI personnel should not only supply blood for dengue fever patients, but also inform the public how to avoid dengue fever infection, he said.
Although Indonesia has a population of around 230 million, the PMI had so far only managed to collect 1.7 million pouches of blood annually, while demand nation-wide is around four million pouches, or around 2 percent of the total population as stipulated by WHO.
Therefore, PMI had set itself the target of collecting three million pouches of donated blood in 2010 to meet increased public demand for the vital body fluid.
"Last year, we only obtained 1.7 million pouches but this year our target is three million, and in 2011, four million," PMI Chairman Jusuf Kalla said in Yogyakarta on Saturday (Feb. 6).
Consequently, he said, PMI would launch public campaigns in public areas such as shopping centers, bus terminals, railway stations, and places of worship, as well as in companies and mass organizations, Kalla said at a meeting with personnel of Yogyakarta`s PMI. Blood donation units would also be set up at universities, he said.
The public campaigns, bearing the theme "Donating Blood is Healthy," would be carried out in conjunction with the setting up of permanent blood donation units at strategic locations.
"So, we will collect blood donations not just occasionally, like monthly or ceremonially. We will make donating blood part of people`s life style," he said.
Kalla also has an ambition that PMI would also set up a blood pouch-making plant to end its dependence on imported pouches, he said.
PMI gets around 80% of its blood stock from voluntary, unpaid donors, while the remaining 20% is collected from family replacement donations (where a member of the patient`s family is obligated to replace the units of blood given to the patient).
According to the WHO, the basis for an adequate supply of safe blood is a pool of healthy, regular, voluntary donors who give blood without financial or other reward.
Research has shown that donors who give blood of their own free will without the expectation of payment are the `safest` donors.
WHO said on its official website that since World Blood Donor Day was celebrated for the first time in 2004, 111 countries reported an increase of the number of voluntary donations; 32 of these 111 have more than doubled the number of voluntary donations as compared to 2004 figures; All these 32 countries are developing or transitional countries.
Eleven countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cook Islands, Cape Verde, Kuwait, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niue, Vanuatu and Vietnam) report more than a 10% increase in voluntary unpaid donations in 2007, as compared to 2006 figures, WHO data showed.
Meanwhile, Dr. Yuyun Soedarmono, Director of the Blood Transfusion Unit of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) told ANTARA few years ago that "In Jakarta every day we receive more than 10 requests for our mobile units to go to certain offices that organize blood donation events. However, since our staff members and mobile facilities are limited, sometimes we have to turn down several requests."
Another obstacle is the expiration date on the blood stock, which can be stored for no longer than three weeks.
"If we collect too much blood in a certain period, it will be wasted because we can not keep it for more than three weeks in our storage," she explained.
"We screen 100% of donated blood for four diseases, namely syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV," Dr. Yuyun said.
Basically, it is `in the blood` of many Indonesians to routinely donate blood, as many organizations, state-owned and private companies often organize blood donation activity when celebrating their anniversaries.