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City supports voluntary blood donations amid debate on draft law

January 17, 2017 - 09:00

While a pending draft law would require all Vietnamese to donate blood at least once a year, HCM City has set a target to have at least 220,000 citizens donate blood voluntarily this year.


Young men donate blood in HCM City, which targets having at least 220,000 citizens donate blood voluntarily this year. VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — While a pending draft law would require all Vietnamese to donate blood at least once a year, HCM City has set a target to have at least 220,000 citizens donate blood voluntarily this year.

The city authority also targets having at least 94 per cent of  “good quality” blood from donations.

HCM City is facing a shortage of blood for transfusions due to a lack of donors.

The city has urged district and ward authorities as well as leaders of companies, organisations, factories and schools to continue to encourage people to donate blood voluntarily.    

Leaders of companies have been asked to encourage at least 30 per cent of officials and public employees at state-owned companies and organisations to donate blood.

Dr Nguyễn Phước Bích Hạnh, of the HCM City Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, said there was a shortage of safe blood supply at the institute.

“We encourage people to donate blood. My daughters and I frequently donate blood,” she told Việt Nam News.

Nguyễn Thị Kim Thủy, deputy chairwoman of the Việt Nam Red Cross in Gò Vấp District, is urging companies with a large number of workers to schedule voluntary blood donation programmes.

Speaking at a recent workshop, Thuỷ said it took many years to make companies or organisations agree to the proposal, as they were afraid that donations could affect  manufacturing schedules.

Still, only a few companies have agreed. “We need to ensure the workers work after donating blood,” Thủy said, adding that workers are encouraged to donate no more than 250 millilitres of blood at a time.

The company’s employees helped her district exceed the target set by the city’s Humanitarian Blood Donation Centre last year, she said.

Unlike Gò Vấp District, many other districts such as District 6 and Tân Phú and Bình Tân districts did not achieve their target last year.

Dr Trần Thị Như Tố, chief of the centre, said since May last year, the centre had not been able to supply enough blood to the hospital.

According to the hospital, it faced a shortfall of 3,000 units last May and the shortage is continuing.

Tố said the centre would focus on encouraging companies to carry out blood donation programmes.

Lê Quốc Chính of the Bình Chánh District’s Red Cross in HCM City said it encouraged members of the public to donate blood, but the centre lacked vehicles to transport donated blood, as well as doctors and nurses to manage blood donation programmes.

The centre should ask the city to buy more vehicles and should send enough doctors and nurses to collect blood, he said.

The centre said it would plan to start courses to train its staff in blood donation programmes and first aid.

The centre has launched a website, www.hienmaunhandao.org.vn, to disseminate information about blood donations to donors as well as publicise the benefits donors receive.

Draft law

A draft law written by the Ministry of Health is being debated as it would require all Vietnamese to donate blood at least once a year.

Under the draft law, all healthy Vietnamese citizens, between 18 and 60 years old, have to make a blood donation at least once every year.

The draft law has been met with mixed feedback from health experts, some of whom support the current rule that asks citizens to donate blood on a voluntary basis.

To be eligible, donors must be between 18 and 60 years old, with no cardiac disease, hypertension or blood-borne illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis or malaria.

Donors must weigh at least 42 kilos for women and 45 kilos for men, as well as have a suitable hemoglobin index.

A healthy adult can donate up to four times a year.

Nguyễn Anh Trí, head of the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion and a member of the National Assembly, support the draft law, saying it is a “civilised” approach adopted by many countries.

Last year, Vietnamese donated over 470,000 litres of blood, which represented about 1.52 per cent of the population, Trí said.

The rate is still lower than the two per cent rate recommended by the World Health Organisation, he said.

Although voluntary blood donations have become more common in the Vietnamese community, a specific law on them is necessary, he added.

The draft law is pending approval by the National Assembly.

The health sector has set a goal to collect at least 1.7 million units of blood this year. — VNS