Low awareness keeps them away from camps
A large number of people living in villages don’t donate blood as they fear their bodies won’t be left with enough of it.
There are farmers who think donating blood will make them weak, rendering them incapable of working in fields.
Lack of awareness has kept people from rural areas away from blood donation camps.
According to the WHO, there is a constant need for regular supply because blood can be stored only for a limited period. Regular blood donation ensures blood is available whenever and wherever it is needed.
Men in villages don’t want to donate blood because they are scared of losing their strength. Very few women donate it.
Renukamma, who works in a ragi field, said: “We are aware about blood donation, but we don’t want to donate. We work in the field all day. What if we fall sick or tired? Who will take care of the work? I have heard that we may fall ill after giving blood.”
Shantha Kumar, a blood donor, explained: “Most people in my village are scared to donate blood. They all know the importance of donation, but still the fear in them holds them back from donating.”
The awareness is poor in villages. “The government or NGOs should come forward and debunk the myths attached to blood donations. Most don’t even know their blood group.”
Dr Sreelatha, MD of the blood bank at Victoria Hospital, said: “Blood donors from rural areas are very few. They are not completely aware about why one should give blood and in what time period gap one can give blood. There are a lot of advantages of donating blood about which most people in villages are unaware. Though we spread a lot of knowledge and awareness, the reach is really less. The government should take steps to create greater awareness…. There are a lot of people who die because they don’t get blood at right time. Blood donation cannot be forced; rather it is something that one should volunteer to donate.”
Doctors and NGOs try to spread awareness. “Small surveys should be held in villages to find the mode of communication people are comfortable with: Face-to-face interactions or video interactions. We are ready to take big steps to reach the population.” she added.
Dr Shalini Devaraj, head doctor at the K. Gollahalli PHC, said: “We recently organized a blood camp. To no surprise, there were very few donors from the village. Today we are in need of blood. I think people are still stuck with a lot of myths. I have seen young people unable to convince their parents to donate blood. Women’s count is the least.”
During its interactions with people in villages, The Observer found that most villagers think they themselves have very little blood and most of them suffer from high BP and diabetes. Few have donated to their relatives in emergencies. Villagers feel they are risking their own life while donating blood.
H.M. Ashok, a quality manager at the Red Cross Bengaluru, explained: “We have branches in most districts in Karnataka. They will also have 30-40 per cent of shortage which will be fulfilled from Bengaluru’s blood banks. Most of our blood donors are college students and techies. We do very less campaigning in rural areas. It is true that there are very few donors in rural areas. We have mobile banks and create awareness by sending college students, but the result has not been great. During Covid, we had an almost 50 per cent shortage of blood.”
“March, April and May are crucial months where we run short of blood as it is a vacation period and all colleges have exams or holidays. College students contribute around 60 per cent, IT and other workforce contribute 30 per cent. Only around 10 per cent donors are from rural areas,” he shared.
A healthy human can donate blood twice in a year. A man can donate after three months’ gap and a woman can donate after four months.