Leaders of major international aid groups have gathering in Cairo this week to thank people across the Middle East and North Africa for a hugely successful Ramadan blood donor campaign that ran for 5 weeks starting on 14 May 2018. Ramadan is the holy Muslim month of fasting from sunrise to sunset.
For this purpose, a celebration was held at the Cairo Opera House on Saturday 21 July 2018 during which Iraqi musician Naseer Shamma was named Good Will Ambassador for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Mr Shamma performed the lead role in a musical concert that was part of the celebrations.
The digital campaign ran under the theme: Donating is in your Blood, and was a collaboration between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Facebook, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, ministries of health and the World Health Organization (WHO). It was designed to counteract the annual fall in blood donations received during Ramadan.
The campaign ran on Facebook across eight countries, and encouraged people to donate blood after breaking their fast at sunset. Blood banks across the Region extended their opening hours and deployed blood collection vehicles to public spaces where people gathered at night. Red Crescent and Red Cross blood banks witnessed a rise in blood donations as a result of the campaign.
“The results of the campaign were stunning,” said Sayed Hashem, IFRC’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “In all countries we saw a rise in blood donations, ranging from a 5% increase in Jordan to a staggering 88% increase in Egypt’s Red Crescent blood banks. We had a 36% increase in blood donation between 2017 and 2018 for Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine.”
“In real terms, this campaign saved lives. There’s simply no other way to put it.”
Free advertising and technical support provided by Facebook meant that the campaign reached 28 million people across the Region.
“Awareness campaigns are essential in not only motivating donors but in retaining them,” said Dr Moemana Kamel, Secretary General of the Egyptian Red Crescent Society. “In Egypt, every year we need approximately three million blood bags. But only about 50% of this amount is collected. That is why we at Egypt Red Crescent, have initiated an advocacy campaign to spread awareness about the importance of donating blood on a regular basis to fill the gap and save lives.”
Dr John Jabbour, WHO Representative in Egypt, will deliver a message at Saturday’s event on behalf of Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, in which Dr Al-Mandhari will reiterate that an adequate and safe blood supply can only be ensured through regular donations by voluntary, unpaid blood donors. He will note that World Blood Donor Day, marked every year on 14 June, and other similar campaigns increase public awareness of the need for voluntary blood donations to ensure that sufficient and safe blood is available at all times, particularly during emergencies, to save lives.
The organizations taking part in the celebration are: Palestine’s Ministry of Health Central Blood Bank, Red Crescent Societies from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine and Saudi Arabia, and the Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Organization.
22 July 2018