|February 24, 2009
Survey demonstrates greater need for blood donation education in Dubai
Lack of knowledge cited as barrier to building regular donor database, says Dubai Centre
92 percent of respondents would use mobile blood donation units
Dubai, February 24, 2009: Dubai Health Authority's Blood Donation Centre at Al Wasl Hospital (AWH) is calling on Dubai and neighboring emirates residents to register with them as regular donors, in a drive to alleviate potential shortfalls in the emirate's blood bank. In the results of a survey conducted by Real Opinions, with the support of Zabeel Investments, Dubai International Financial Centre and Arab Media Group, it was shown that most of those surveyed were unsure of where they could donate blood, but were keen to do so.
As the only official collection point for blood and blood components in the emirate, the Blood Donation Centre is the single supply source for all Dubai's government and private hospitals, as well as providing additional products to other emirates during emergency situations.
Dr. Laila Mohammed Al Shaer, a consultant in molecular Haematology and Head of the Blood Donation Centre, AWH, said: "Ensuring we have a regular supply of blood and blood products are essential for the future health of Dubai residents. With the expansion of health care facilities and the increasing population growth, we are increasingly concerned that our current donor database will not adequately cope with the constant demand for more blood.
Of 680 respondents, representing a broad spectrum of Dubai residents, over half had donated blood at least once in their lives, however a lack of awareness on the locations at which blood can be donated and the time it takes to reach, donate and return were cited as the key barriers in donating blood in Dubai. Most of those polled had donated through an office or company based initiative, rather than visiting the Blood Donation Centre, over 9 in 10 (92 percent) of those polled would use a mobile blood donation unit if it was available.
Of the demographic groups, UAE nationals were the most aware that blood is required regularly, while 54 percent of all groups polled had donated blood in the last 12 months. Most respondents felt the best opportunity to give blood was at a work based scheme, however barriers to donating blood included pain or discomfort, time spent waiting, a fear of needles and being too busy.
Speaking of the research they commissioned, Amina Taher, Executive Director of Corporate Communications for Zabeel Investments, said: "There seems to be a real gap in actual donors and intentional donors. This demonstrates the need for serious education and awareness programmes, and for corporates and institutions to organise blood drives for their employees to attend. Considering the current financial climate, partnerships between companies for this type of activity would be a significant way of supporting the community, its also a cost effective solution for those organisations that still want to maintain their corporate social responsibility programmes."
Over 9 in 10 of people questioned saw that the personal and selfless act of giving blood to save someone's life was by far the most motivating reason to do so, while allowing them the opportunity to give back to the community. Most were under the impression that you could only give blood twice in one year, when the reality is that you could donate up to four times; once every three months. A lack of knowledge on the location of the Blood Donation Centre was a clear impediment, while a lack of knowledge on the procedures for giving blood was also clear. On a positive note, more than 90 percent were keen or likely to donate if there was a mobile facility or opportunity to do so.
Located at Dubai's Al Wasl Hospital in the Zabeel area, the Blood Donation Centre can handled up to 2000 donors each day, and for those willing to become regular donors, the Centre will advise opportune times to donate. A majority of the blood collected at the Centre goes to the treatment of Thalassemia patients, while the rest is directed to trauma patients, surgical and neo natal uses.
Dr. Al Shaer continued: "Though we don't currently operate a mobile blood bank, we can approach different companies through organized blood donation campaigns held at their office locations. However we would be more than happy to receive a regular stream of willing donors to visit our centre and donate blood through a donation day. Through regular donation, we can forecast and budget for specific times when blood and blood products are required in greater numbers.
Amina Taher concluded: "Based on the results, it would appear that the medical community could do more to help promote the need for blood donation, through clinics and centres across the emirate. However, the private sector, ourselves included, need to get behind a push for donations, in order to better support the community as a whole, I know that we will certainly be doing our part to work the Blood Donation Centre to help raise awareness. We need to look at such initiatives as being fun and rewarding - it's only a needle after all."