The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization today held a blood drive at the PAHO/WHO Belize office grounds on Coney Drive. Blood drives are organized routinely each year and Jorge Polanco Deputy Director of Health Services in the Ministry of Health says it is all in an effort to promote voluntary donation.

Dr. Jorge Polanco – Deputy Director of Health Services
“The underlying idea is that we need to keep a safe supply of blood at the Blood Bank so this activity is nothing new. The interesting part is that here it was supported by the Pan American Health Organization this morning who provided their space for blood extraction. At present most of the blood is provided by the replacement donors which are people who are friends or families of patients who may need blood in a hospital setting for diverse reasons so they would go to the blood bank to give that. Parallel to that we want to promote the volunteers because it has been shown globally that volunteer donors tend to be healthier people and that is because they know that being blood donors they need to remain healthy so they live a more responsible sexual lifestyle and the implication of that is that the risk for having sexually transmitted diseases is lower, they also try to avoid chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes simply because they make an active effort to remain healthy because they consider themselves responsible in providing safe blood.”

Presently voluntary blood donations make up ten to twelve percent of the blood bank and the rest is filled by replacement donors, which is gained through relatives of patients who have required and used blood from the blood bank. Polanco says there is a rising need for more Belizeans to volunteer and donate blood.

Dr. Jorge Polanco – Deputy Director of Health Services
“There is a demand for blood transfusion in the country over the last few months and everybody is aware of this; the increase in violence, road traffic accidents, and especially external injuries, gunshots for example that is so common. That demand has increased and thereby the need to also increase the volunteer blood donors because it is not just a matter of providing blood, we need to ensure that we provide safe blood.”