JUBA, June 14 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Thursday commemorated the World Blood Donor Day with calls for increased investment in blood transfusion services across the conflict-torn East African nation.
Health Minister Riek Gai Kok said the world's youngest nation currently has poor and inadequate health infrastructure to roll out a nationwide blood transfusion program but efforts are being made to improve the situation.
Kok said though there are no official statistics on deaths caused by blood shortage, many people continue to die due to lack of blood transfusion services since there is only one blood bank in the country.
"When fighting broke out in 2013, it was a real disaster because we lost so many people due to lack of blood. I am appealing to the development partners to help us roll out blood transfusion services across the country because blood is essential for humanity," he said.
The event established in 2004 is marked every June 14 to raise awareness about safe blood donation and appreciate blood donors for their voluntary and life-saving sharing of blood.
Evans Liyosi, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in South Sudan, said inadequate blood transfusion services across the conflict-torn nation poses a major public health challenge.
Liyosi appealed to development partners to assist South Sudan to expand its blood transfusion infrastructure in order to reduce deaths caused by blood shortage especially among children and pregnant women.
"Lack of blood is a big challenge especially in areas far from Juba. My appeal is that let's help the ministry of health to save lives," he said.
South Sudan currently operates one blood bank in the capital Juba and it has managed to store nearly 2,000 liters of blood since its opening two years ago, but many health facilities in the countryside continue to face acute blood transfusion crisis.
"We consider lack of blood in South Sudan's hospitals as an emergency. We appeal to the humanitarian agencies and government institutions to support the national blood bank so that it can provide services across the country," said John Lobor, head of South Sudan's Red Cross.