Blood Crisis: give blood, Save Lives – still a long road ahead to meet demand

Blood Crisis: give blood, Save Lives – still a long road ahead to meet demand


By Simon Tavake

The demand for blood transfusions in the country is significantly higher than the supply, with only less than 1 percent of the total population donating blood each year.

The World Health Organization has estimated that the Solomon Islands need 2 percent, or approximately 14,000 individuals, out of a population of 700,000 to donate blood each year.

This information was shared by Mr. Alfred Dofai, the Director of the Medical Laboratory Department at the National Referral Hospital (NRH), during World Blood Donor Day celebration in Honiara on Monday.

Mr. Dofai emphasized that blood donation plays a crucial role in healthcare, benefiting those with health conditions that require blood for survival. 

“While voluntary blood donation is a vital component of the everyday healthcare system in many countries, unfortunately, the demand continues to exceed the supply”.

“This is also true for the Solomon Islands, where the need for blood transfusions is estimated by the World Health Organization to be around two percent of the total population”. 

“We need about 14,000 blood donors out of our 700,000 population annually,” Mr Dofai Said.

Director of the Medical Laboratory Department at the National Referral Hospital Alfred Dofai

Mr. Dofai also confirmed that they managed to collect only 4,500 blood donations last year which represents 0.64 percent of the population.

“We require 14,000, but unfortunately, we could only collect 4,500”.

“That’s a huge gap that needs to be filled. Low blood donations result in insufficient blood supplies available for transfusions,” he said.

This shortage has put the lives of many vulnerable Solomon Islanders at risk. 

The Solomon Islands Red Cross Society is the only organization that has a blood donor voluntary program. 

Civic awareness on the importance of blood donation is an on-going activity for the Society. 

However, the fear of needles and the sight of blood is an enduring challenge for many people; thus, they usually do not come forward to voluntarily give blood because of those reasons alone.

Secretary General of the Solomon Islands Red Cross Society, Mr. John Sumana mentioned that the society aims to recruit up to 60,000 people for voluntary, non-remunerated blood donations across the country.

“As stated in our National Strategic Plan 2022-2026, the Solomon Islands RED Cross Society will make sure that 65,000 Solomon Islanders men, women and youths are recruited for the Voluntary non-remunerated blood donations through awareness”.

“The focus and target of the national society is to commit itself to achieve this target,” Mr Sumana said.

Secretary General of the Solomon Islands Red Cross Society, John Sumana

While the Red Cross is struggling to raise awareness about voluntary blood donations, the NRH has also encountered challenges, particularly with blood storage. This has led to public criticism.

In 2023, around 150 blood bags were damaged due to a malfunction in the blood bank fridge, sparking many public debates on social media. 

The Ministry, together with the NRH, responded quickly by installing three new fridges, two of them were donated by Michael Leong and the Pacific Crown Hotel. They also organized a blood donation drive to replace the 150 damaged blood bags.

NRH Chief Executive Officer Dr. George Malefoasi later stated that they are also looking at installing power backups to protect specialized equipment from ongoing power outages, which pose a risk to the equipment.

These are some of the ongoing challenges that the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the Solomon Islands Red Cross Society faced over the years despite their many efforts.

The NRH Blood Bank Unit is calling on all churches and youth groups, organizations including special interest groups and individuals to come forward and donate blood for the unit.

The unit is located at the back of the Western end of the hospital facing the sea wall.

The public can also contact the outpatient department to enquire about the exact location of the unit on telephone 44029, 44028, 44027 or 44066.


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