Projected annual demand for blood nationwide is currently more than 100,000 units, up 20 per cent from last year, according to a senior health official.

Ministry of Health secretary of state Prak Sophorneary said that last year, Cambodia needed one bag of blood to save a life every six minutes.

“We need more than 100,000 banks of blood across the country – up nearly 20 per cent from previous years. The National Blood Transfusion Centre (NBTC) covers over 70 per cent of blood supply across the country,” she noted.

“We receive about 10 per cent of our supply from voluntary blood donors in the Kingdom, while the remainder comes from neighbouring countries,” she added.

On August 22, a blood drive with the theme “Donate blood to save lives” was launched at the Royal School of Administration (RSA), where more than 350 civil servants donated.

Sophorneary commended all donors for giving blood, and called for further support in future campaigns.

“Today’s blood drive was meaningful, but we need to create a habit and culture of regularly giving blood,” she said.

She encouraged the public in general and youth in particular to assist the NBTC to assure an adequate blood supply to patients across the Kingdom.

The health ministry said that regular blood donation had no harmful side effects, and in fact provided benefits such as reducing the risk of stroke, easing stress and cholesterol levels, as well as reducing an excess of iron, all of which could affect the liver and pancreas. Donating blood also contributed to the health of the heart and weight loss, it noted.

The ministry added that having donated blood, people should feel a sense of pride as they have completed a humanitarian activity and helped save lives.

Minister of Civil Service Prum Sokha, who spearheaded the blood campaign at the RSA, said the lack of available stocks of blood is a real challenge for the Kingdom and requires attention. Through the health ministry, the government has endeavoured to encourage regular blood donations, as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, he said that since the Covid-19 outbreak, blood donation has decreased because of a fear of coronavirus infections. This meant the government was unlikely to meet the WHO’s suggestions.

“The majority of people are unaware of the benefits of giving blood, so the health ministry – through the NBTC – is running a series of education campaigns and blood drives. These programmes aim to promote the benefits of donating and make the public more confident in doing so,” he said.

He said regular donation is an excellent habit for people to adopt, as it brings all Cambodians together.

In addition, when civil servants donate the gift of blood, it builds the public’s trust for the men and women of the public administration, he added.

“I thank all of the civil servants and leadership who participated [at RSA] today. I hope these donations will save lives and that today’s event will encourage other ministries and institutions to launch similar campaigns. We are in danger of a critical shortage of blood supplies. Not a single patient should die because of a lack of something as simple as blood,” he said.