SINGAPORE - A record number of individuals received the highest award this year for their contributions as blood donors, but fewer younger Singaporeans are taking part in blood donation drives.
A total of 1,720 blood donors gathered in Gardens by the Bay on Saturday (June 23) for the Champion Blood Donor Recognition Ceremony and to mark World Blood Donor Day.
Twenty-one of them received the Medal for Life award, the highest honour for individuals who have made more than 200 blood donations in their lifetime. This was the biggest group to receive the award since the National Blood Programme was launched in 2001.
The annual event was jointly organised by the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) and the Health Sciences Authority.
A total of 73,100 people donated more than 116,000 units of blood last year, benefiting over 32,000 patients in Singapore.
"It's remarkable how far the National Blood Programme has come over the years," said SRC Chairman Tee Tua Ba, adding that this was a " huge increase from the 26,000 units of blood in 1967."
Despite that, Mr Tee said that ensuring adequate blood supply continues to be a challenge for Singapore as around 600 regular donors stop donating each year due to age-related illnesses.
In addition, the number of youth donors has seen a gradual decrease over the last 10 years, from nearly 23,000 in 2008 to just over 19,000 in 2017.
"We must not become complacent in thinking that a sustainable blood supply will always be guaranteed," said Mr Tee.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, the guest-of-honour, expressed his support for efforts by SRC and its partners in encouraging the younger generation to donate blood.
These include ongoing collaborations with the Ministry of Education to encourage students to learn more about blood donation through various school programmes, as well as working alongside Bloodmobile Organisers (BMOs) to organise blood donation drives in educational institutions and within the community.