Government of Pakistan Safe Blood Transfusion Programme
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) goal for all countries in the world is to obtain their blood supplies through voluntary, unpaid donors. Pakistan faces chronic shortages of blood, driven by a fragmented ecosystem where family and friends bear the responsibility of finding safe blood for their loved ones in times of need.
As the sixth largest country in the world with a population of 207 million, Pakistan has 154 million mobile phone users and 41 million active Facebook users. In the presence of ubiquitous connectivity, people often get in touch with their Facebook networks to locate blood donors, with thousands of such posts made each month.
The Pakistan Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC) Safe Blood Transfusion Programme (SBTP) partnered with Facebook in 2018 to support the country in its efforts to shift to 100% voluntary donations and address misconceptions about the blood donation process. Since then, over 5 million* people in Pakistan have registered as blood donors.
*Data as of June 2020
The Safe Blood Transfusion Programme (SBTP) aims to establish a country-wide safe and efficiently operated blood transfusion service by centralising all blood collection and processing while ensuring that all blood banks meet WHO standards of quality and safety. To help shift the paradigm in Pakistan away from reliance on family replacement donations and secure 100% voluntary donations, the SBTP is leveraging Facebook’s Blood Donations feature to spread awareness and facilitate donations.
The Safe Blood Transfusion Programme launched a pilot of Facebook’s Blood Donations feature in five hospital blood banks in major cities in Pakistan. Over the course of six months, each pilot blood bank implemented a donor questionnaire and tracked key metrics such as registrations, phone calls, visits and donations. The results not only demonstrated the efficacy of the tool in increasing voluntary donations, but also provided SBTP with insights on how to maximise donor outreach.
“Facebook has provided Pakistan with an effective blood donation feature that is helping bring a paradigm shift from reliance on family replacement donations to 100% regular voluntary donations.”Dr Hasan Abbas Zaheer, Former National Coordinator, Safe Blood Transfusion Programme Government of Pakistan
The SBTP was able to increase voluntary blood donations and contribute to a more sustainable blood supply by using Facebook to raise awareness and tell people where and when they can donate blood. Facebook has therefore proved a very efficient and effective tool with tremendous potential to target larger audiences.
To date, over 4.5 million people in Pakistan have registered to donate blood. Results from a pilot programme with 5 regional blood banks showed that 3 out of 5 of those blood banks received over 50% of their voluntary donations directly from Facebook.
- 3/5 blood banks received over 50% of their voluntary blood donations directly from Facebook.
One of these blood banks is Bahawalpur Regional Blood Centre (RBC) in Punjab Province. Facebook significantly boosted the organisation’s organic reach so they could access and engage an audience far larger than before. Facilitating blood donations through Facebook also proved very effective at recruiting voluntary blood donors, and the method was much faster and more cost-efficient than other ways of traditional advertising. By utilising the Facebook Blood Donations feature, voluntary blood donations doubled and they now receive 58% of their monthly blood supply directly from Facebook donors.
- Bahawalpur RBC receives 58% of their monthly blood supply directly from Facebook donors.
Based on the success of the pilot, centres nationwide are now using Facebook Blood Donations. The SBTP-Facebook partnership has boosted national efforts to promote voluntary blood donations, raised awareness about blood safety and increased overall community engagement. As a result, the SBTP modified their national strategy for donor mobilisation to include social media as an effective way to help fulfil the country’s need for blood donations. The SBTP now views social media as playing a key role in shifting the paradigm from reliance on family replacement donations to 100% regular voluntary donations.