Three different entities joined hands to observe the National Voluntary Blood Donation Day in Shillong on October 1, only to collect 12 bottles of the ‘elixir of life’! In the city of Shillong, next to Guwahati in terms of population in North-east, the figure is very insignificant. It shows either people are not interested to part with their blood or the authorities concerned failed to spread the awareness. If newspaper advertisements should be enough to bring in donors to the camp, the Meghalaya AIDS Control Society did its bit. MACS, one of the organisers along with State Blood Transfusion Council and licensed blood banks, issued colour advertisements in local newspapers for two consecutive days.

The turnout of blood donors at the state-level function in the state capital is astonishing, given the amount of advertising. Besides the spot advertisements, there is no dearth of awareness campaigns for blood donation. However, the percentage of blood donors in these campaigns is miniscule even in these campaigns. In the MACS function itself, there were over hundred youths attending the programme. After all, the minister needs some attendance to deliver his lecture! Crores of rupees are being spent every year in order to inspire people to donate blood to the needy. But people are yet to be liberated from the taboo that you harm your body by donating blood. While the elder generation have reservations about blood donation, the young generation should not be affected by this notion. The ambassadors of blood donation should catch the young blood in a more convincing manner.

With the population growing the nation will have less donors per patient requiring blood. Of course, programmes are regularly organised to spread the awareness. Yet, something is wrong somewhere. The people in charge of bringing awareness may not be convinced themselves by the idea. New methods need to be explored to fill the embarrassing gap between requirement and availability of blood. Besides, it is high time the government put to scrutiny the various organizations entrusted for this noble work spending huge sums of public money every year. They cannot regularly cite people’s ‘lack of interest’ for the poor conversion rate despite the awareness programmes.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on October 2, 2015)