In Australia blood donation is voluntary and currently only 1 in 30 people donate blood. However, 1 in 3 of us will need blood or blood products in our lifetime. Blood is needed for all sorts of reasons, such as to help people with cancer, surgical patients, new mothers and those involved in road accidents.
Occasionally in Australia there is a need for specific blood types that cannot be met within the usual blood supply, so it’s important to have blood donors who represent our diverse community.
Professor Michael Polonsky from Deakin University explains that rare blood types have evolved in populations around the world, including Africa, India and the South Pacific. Previous work by Professor Polonsky and Professor Andre Renzaho (Western Sydney University) found that although many Africans living in Australia do not donate blood currently, they were willing to learn more and are very interested in donating.
Materials about blood donation have been developed with the assistance of the Australian African community as part of an initiative funded by an Australian Research Council linkage grant. The project involves collaboration between the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Deakin University, Australian Catholic University and Western Sydney University. Video and print materials prepared in this project feature members of the African Community in Wollongong and Sydney who describe the blood donation process and show how easy blood donation is. The materials are available in English, Arabic, Swahili and Kurundi.
The collaborators working on this project hope that these materials will be successful in engaging the African community in blood donation. A successful outcome from this research project would allow a similar approach of developing videos and printed materials translated into other languages through engaging other cultural groups who are currently underrepresented in blood donation in Australia.
Acknowledgement: “Australian governments fund the Australian Red Cross Blood Service for the provision of blood, blood products and services to the Australian community.”