Ministry encourages voluntary blood donation
The Ministry of Health encourages members of the public to voluntarily donate blood in order to continuously replenish the national supply. In Trinidad and Tobago, just over 20,000 units of blood are donated by the members of the public annually. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that we should collect one unit for every 20 people every year. Given the size of our population, this country actually needs 70,000 units of blood per year.
While the stock of blood and blood products has been a longstanding challenge for the public sector, there has been a noted reduction in blood donation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The development of the parallel healthcare system, to manage suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19, ensured that there was limited impact on the standard health care system. Thus, the demand for blood and blood products for medical procedures, like the delivery of babies and heart surgeries, remained constant. This Government has undertaken the challenge to address this issue head on and has implemented several initiatives.
In the past few months, three blood donation drives have been held in various areas of the country via the public health system, one of which was done in collaboration with the Blood Donor Foundation of the University of the West Indies. The Ministry continues to reach out to members of the blood donor database to come out and donate voluntarily and, with the support of one of the country’s main mobile phone service providers, text messages are sent to members of the public to encourage voluntary blood donation.
Long-term strategies have also been employed. Blood Transfusion Committees have been re-instituted in each Regional Health Authority. These committees are responsible for ensuring that:
- all required protocols and guidelines are implemented consistently
- blood and blood products are utilised optimally with no wastage
The Ministry has also established a National Blood Donor Committee, which is chaired by the Chief Medical Officer, and includes representatives from the National Blood Transfusion Service and the University of the West Indies.
Most importantly, the Ministry has initiated the transition from a chit-based blood donation system to a voluntary, non-remunerable, system. While this is the long-term goal for the blood donation system and will take a few years to be realised, it is a necessary first step to achieving the quality and quantity of safe blood donations required.
Members of the public can visit any of the national blood donation centres to share life and give blood voluntarily. The Ministry of Health remains committed to ensuring a safe and reliable national blood supply and the provision of quality health care for the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
Contact Information for National Blood Donation Centres
Port of Spain – NWRHA
#4 Queen’s Park East
San Fernando – SWRHA
San Fernando General Hospital
EWMSC – NCRHA
Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex
Phone: 225-4673 Ext. 2008
Point Fortin – SWRHA
Point Fortin Area Hospital
Phone: 225-4325 Ext. 4114
Sangre Grande – ERHA
Sangre Grande Hospital
Tobago – TRHA
Scarborough General Hospital
Phone: 660-4744 Ext. 3099/3098