December 11, 2012 · 0 Comments
The South African National Blood Service faces especially difficult times during winter, when schools and universities have holidays, and can hardly reach its target to provide a five-day stock.If the country wants to be able to provide the necessary medical care in future, it has to think about how it can motivate more people to donate blood. It is risky to bank upon financial incentives, because with growing population, financial incentives may become unaffordable.
Vietnam had similar problems in the past, but managed quite well to ensure that enough blood was donated. Donations went from 120 000 in 1994 to more than 700 000 in 2010. At the same time, the share of remunerated donations, and donations from relatives, sank from about 80% to about 15%. The country has clearly carried out a strategy that successfully motivated its people to donate blood. South Africa could potentially use Vietnam’s methods and implement similar strategies in South Africa.
First, one should look to the availability of places where people can donate blood. Blood donation is an altruistic act, but it is also time consuming. If the blood donation process becomes a day trip, many people will rethink if they are willing to take these efforts on themselves. The South African National Blood service website has only one single address where one can donate blood in the Western Cape. Other provinces focus very much on cluster areas in and around cities. Vietnam has established a very dense network of donation centres all over the country to enable blood donations to everyone. South Africa could establish similar measures, but at a minimum, it could take care that rural hospitals are able to receive blood donations.
Aside from physical infrastructure of the blood donation networks, community awareness remains critical in increasing the number of blood donations. The Vietnamese government has committed itself to providing means for broad public campaigns for blood donations, and it is a clever move. Instead of linking blood donations with possible remunerations in the peoples’ minds, the government has chosen to spend its money one-off to motivate people voluntarily to donate their blood. By doing so the Vietnamese government expects to get 1% of the population to donate blood by 2015 and 1.5% by 2020. As soon as donations have become usual and widespread, the state can lower its expenditures for awareness campaigns, because the system runs by itself. Until then, Vietnam continues to put its efforts in continuing to initiate campaigns, especially for its younger population.
From a marketing perspective, those campaigns are well thought out. They do not only concentrate on schools and universities, but also take place in the hearts of the cities and attract much public and media attention. The International Blood Donation Day is celebrated publicly and youth groups organize blood donation festivals. Vietnam has managed to win over the young share of its population for blood donations, and in return those people help to convince others. South Africa should learn from that approach and invest in broad campaigns for blood donations all over the country to bring the matter to those people, who have never been informed before.