Incentives can nudge more people to donate blood

As a regular blood donor (46 times as of July), I have some suggestions on how to encourage people to donate blood ("Blood donations a shared responsibility in fostering a strong Singapore" by Tan Joy; Aug 16, and "Efforts to boost pool of youth blood donors" by the Singapore Red Cross (SRC); Aug 20).

The life expectancy of Singaporeans has increased, thus, the SRC should set a higher age limit for first-time donors than the current 60.

We should tap older people as a donation pool, if their health permits. At the Health Sciences Authority, there are trained personnel, including doctors, to assess the health of people coming to donate blood.

So, we should not be sending the wrong message to older people that they are not "qualified" to be donors.

The SRC gives medallions to those who have donated blood for the fifth and 10th time; why not invite this group of people to come on stage during a ceremony, and present the award to them, just like for the bronze and higher medal recipients?

This will allow this group of relatively new donors to feel that their efforts are being appreciated, rather than just having them collect their medallions from the SRC office.

I am sure this group of donors would invite their friends to the awards ceremony, and this would, in turn, create more awareness.

Previously, veteran donors - those who donate blood at least twice in a period of six months - were issued a "green card" that allowed them to enjoy some medical subsidies or privileges.

I was proud to be a green-card holder, as it showed that I was a regular donor.

During my national service days, I managed to get some of my army buddies to start donating blood so that they could benefit from the scheme.

However, it has since been withdrawn.

Although donations should be voluntary, I am sure that more people would be encouraged to become donors if we brought back the green-card system.

With some form of privileges to act as a sweetener, we could increase the number of donors.

Elliot Taylor Hong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2016, with the headline 'Incentives can nudge more people to donate blood'. Print Edition | Subscribe