Efforts to boost pool of youth blood donors

I am heartened by Tan Joy's letter on the importance of blood donation ("Blood donations a shared responsibility in fostering a strong Singapore"; Tuesday).

Indeed, donating blood allows us to put Total Defence into action. Besides civil defence, it is also about social and psychological defence.

When one gives blood, or volunteers at our blood banks or mobile drives, he is giving back to society. Together, we can play our part in strengthening community resilience.

While the National Blood Programme has successfully met Singapore's blood needs over the past seven decades, our ageing population and expanding healthcare system pose a challenge to blood supply adequacy.

We project an increase of 3 per cent to 5 per cent in blood demand annually .

To ensure a sufficient supply of safe blood into the future, the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) has embarked on a multipronged approach to increase the percentage of youth donors from 28 per cent to 35 per cent of the donor population.

When one gives blood, or volunteers at our blood banks or mobile drives, he is giving back to society. Together, we can play our part in strengthening community resilience.

To raise awareness among our youth, the SRC initiated the Youth Ambassador Blood Programme (previously known as the Youth Donor Club) to empower young ambassadors to plan and organise blood-donation initiatives on campuses.

In recent months, we have twinned blood-advocacy initiatives with school-based blood drives. I am glad the effort has borne fruit, as attested by Joy.

We also organise learning journeys for schoolchildren to the four blood banks at the Health Sciences Authority, Dhoby Ghaut Xchange, Westgate Tower and Woodlands Civic Centre.

A series of outreach programmes and skits will be rolled out in schools next year.

Leveraging social media to amplify our efforts, the SRC has launched the Red Cross Connection mobile app and microsite (giveblood.sg) that share the nation's blood needs, upcoming blood drives and nearest blood banks, and alerts when certain blood types are needed.

We have also launched a mobile game app Donor Dash to get them interested about blood donation through gaming.

The SRC also works with the Ministry of Education in weaving community bonding and life-saving aspects of blood donation into the national education and social studies curriculum. Our efforts include conducting workshops on blood donation at junior colleges.

We are confident that these initiatives will nurture future generations of Singaporeans who see blood donation as a social responsibility and cornerstone of a resilient community.

We continue to welcome public feedback and interest in blood donation.

Benjamin William

Secretary-General/Chief Executive
Singapore Red Cross

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline 'Efforts to boost pool of youth blood donors'. Print Edition | Subscribe