The National Blood Transfusion Centre (NBTC) used the occasion of World Blood Donor Day to cal for more people to donate blood. It noted that current donation levels in the Kingdom are lower than the standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

An event to mark the day, celebrated annually on June 14, was chaired by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng, with NBTC president Sok Bo, and many other officials, students and members of the public in attendance.

The event was organised to celebrate and thank all of the volunteers who gave blood and encourage healthy young people to become regular donors.

Po, on behalf of the NBTC, offered his gratitude to all those who had made life-saving contributions. He noted that last year, the total number of donors equalled just 0.62 per cent of the Kingdom’s estimated population of 17 million, not enough to meet the current demand of the equivalent of one blood bag every six minutes.

He acknowledged that donations had increased, but warned that they had not offset an increase in demand.

“According to the WHO’s standards, about one per cent of the total population should donate blood. Currently, we are sitting at around 0.62 per cent, which means that we need to almost double the number of donors,” he said.

He said the lack of donations reflected people’s lack of awareness of its importance.

“Donating blood has three main benefits. The donor reduces the risk of cancer, iron deficiency and improves circulation. Society also benefits. Finally, the act of giving earns merit, according to Buddhist beliefs,” he said.

He claimed that neighbouring nations have a higher rate of donations than the Kingdom.

According to Po, daily demand is about 300 to 350 blood bags in Phnom Penh alone, which is 15 per cent more than last year. At present friends and family of a patient are required to provide up to 86 per cent of the blood required.

Po called on all of his compatriots to voluntarily give blood, because blood is needed to save the lives of patients every day.

“I am also aware that there are some opportunists who see this demand as some kind of business opportunity. We are prepared to take serious measures against anyone who does so,” he stressed.

Bun Heng also applauded the act of giving blood, noting that it was proven to save lives.

“All healthy members of the general public, especially young people, should come forward and volunteer,” he said. “I believe that a movement of participating in blood drives – such as we have seen by some government institutions and large private sector employers – creates a positive culture in our society.”

He highlighted the invaluable contribution that blood drive campaigns have made to the improvement of the national healthcare system.