Dr. Gerardo de Cosio, PAHO/WHO Belize Representative
| Belize City, 28 September 2011 – The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization in collaboration with the Belize Blood Transfusion Services, Ministry of Health, hosted a Blood Drive in the Coney Drive Community, northern Belize City. |
The objective was to create awareness and encourage blood donation from surrounding community and offices, and by extension, increase awareness on healthy lifestyles. The initiative was held to strengthen the Belize Blood Transfusion Services in its supply of voluntary blood donation. In addition, with a high number of Belizeans being affected by diabetes and other chronic diseases, this event also included checks for glucose, body mass index and blood pressure levels.
|At the opening ceremony, Dr. Gerardo de Cosio, PAHO/WHO Belize Representative, highlighted the importance of blood donation which is to save lives. He reiterated PAHO’s continued technical cooperation to support the Blood Bank to promote voluntary blood donation. This event took place at the PAHO/WHO Belize Country office. Being highly motivated, the PAHO Staff played an active role by facilitating blood donor volunteers to access the blood bank service in the conference room, assisting donors to fill in their forms and providing healthy snacks after the donation. This also became an excellent opportunity for blood donors and others to learn about the work of the Organization. The PAHO Staff enjoyed interacting with the community and the media, promoting our program including healthy lifestyles.|
Blood donation by Deputy Director of Health Services and the Wife of the Prime Minister
Dr. Jorge Polanco, Deputy Director of Health Services, Ministry of Health, encouraged blood donation but referred to voluntary blood donation as the most important and safest way of blood transfusion. The blood supply in the country is confirmed at about 10% from voluntary donations. The other 90% is from the replacement donor system. According to Dr. Polanco, this means that people would go to the blood bank and donate blood replacing the blood that a relative or a friend would have used. “That has worked for Belize, but we want to reduce that proportion of replacement donors and increase the volunteers”. After his remarks, Dr. Polanco proceeded to become the first blood donor in this event.
Blood donation by construction worker and PAHO/WHO Belize Representative
|Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, wife of the Prime Minister, also donated blood. According to Mrs. Barrow, it was very important to support the Blood Drive. She highlighted that blood saves lives! “Unfortunately, in Belize today, we don’t have too many people donating blood and we want to encourage more and more people to give blood because it saves lives and it is very critical. We hear about many emergency accidents and people need blood immediately and if we don’t have blood in the blood banks, then we have a problem. So I am happy to be a part of this initiative in encouraging people to donate blood”. As Mrs. Barrow was filling up her screening risk questionnaire, she stressed to the media on the importance of healthy lifestyles providing comments on some of the questions related to high risk practices.|
A construction worker of a nearby building willingly donated blood. As he was eating his healthy snack he commented, “This is the first time I have ever done this. At first, I didn’t want to come but then I was told that if I do it, I will feel very satisfied as a part of me will help to save someone’s life” He then went back to his work with a smile knowing that today he did something good!
Ms. Joy Robateau, Director of the Belize Blood Bank praised this event as the first to provide healthy snacks, fruits and vegetables: “Certainly, this attracts more people than expected. While they get their snacks, they are also listening to conversations on the importance of blood donation. Some of them, who are not donating blood, are getting useful information on their blood type and hemoglobin level. They are even enjoying completing their screening questionnaire while they learn about some high risk practices”. Interestingly, the media personnel also became blood donors on this day.
The Pan American Health Organization, which is the Regional Office in the Americas of the World Health Organization, was founded in 1902, and works with all countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. The PAHO/WHO Country Office in Belize was established in the 1950s.
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