More blood donations and donors but challenges ahead with ageing population

People donating blood at Bloodbank@HSA in Outram Road on May 24.
People donating blood at Bloodbank@HSA in Outram Road on May 24.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More people are donating blood and the number of donations has increased, but challenges lie ahead as the population ages, said the Singapore Red Cross on Saturday (June 04).

According to figures jointly released by the organization and the Health Sciences Authority, there were 112,000 blood donations last year, an increase of 35 per cent from the 83,600 in 2005.

The donor pool has also grown by 39 per cent over the decade from 51,000 to 71,000 last year.

But the country's ageing population - which will see one in four people in Singapore aged 65 years or older - presents a "double-edged" challenge to the national blood programme, said Singapore Red Cross chairman Tee Tua Ba.

"On one hand, we risk a decline in blood supply as blood donors mature and are more susceptible to health problems," said Mr Tee, who spoke at an event to mark World Blood Donor Day at the Singapore Sports Hub.

"On the other hand, we expect an increase in the demand for blood, as the elderly develop health complications that require blood transfusion," he added.

Forecasts project that there will be an increase of 3 to 5 per cent in blood needs every year.

To address this, the Singapore Red Cross will look to increase the proportion of youth in the donor base, from the current 28 per cent to 35 per cent by 2030.

It will continue to push to recruit more youth donors - between the ages of 16 and 35 - through more awareness programmes, including social media engagements and mobile apps.

Blood donors supported transfusions for more than 28,000 people in 2015.

During Saturday's event, which was attended by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Grace Fu, a total of 1,450 individuals were recognised for their efforts in contributing to the nation's blood bank.