A blood boycott to protest against the end of hospital charge exemptions implemented by the government at the beginning of the year is placing the national blood reserves at risk.
The government has already made an appeal for donations claiming the nation could soon face a critical blood shortage, with blood banks unable to meet demands particularly during the upcoming summer months.
In some regions of Portugal, the number of blood donations has dropped by 50%. Since January 1 this year, blood donors have started paying public hospital fees, however, they are still exempt from charges at health centres.
It has been reported in the Portuguese press this week that 20 blood donor associations across Portugal are encouraging their members to boycott donations until the government reverses its decision to end hospital charge exemptions.
However, Mário de Freitas, President of the main blood donors association in the Algarve, Associação de Dadores de Sangue do Barlavento Algarve (ADSBA), told the Algarve Resident this week that he questions what is being said in the press.
“I do not agree with this boycott and, frankly, I do question what is being reported about the other associations,” he said.
“It is a fact that blood doors are upset by the government’s decision. However, blood donor associations have been created to help save lives and donors should only donate if this is very clear in their minds.”
The president of ADSBA said neither he nor his association are supporting the boycott, but admitted that since the government’s announcement the donor turn out at their Sunday drives (first Sunday of each month) at Portimão hospital CHBA has decreased by 50%.
Mário de Freitas is calling on the government to review the legislation regarding hospital charge exemptions and added that while the Algarve was self-sufficient in terms of blood reserves a month ago, it could soon be faced with blood shortages judging by the decrease in donations (-20%).
Meanwhile, Hélder Trindade, president of the Portuguese Blood Institute (Instituto Português do Sangue – IPS), has accused blood donor associations of taking a “unionist approach” to the situation rather than working as partners of the IPS.
He said: “I can’t understand how these associations, which were created to promote blood donations, are now encouraging donors to boycott them.” I.L.
Giving blood takes no more than 30 minutes from the time a person enters a blood bank.
The process involves filling in a health questionnaire before speaking to a doctor, who will assess a person’s general health, and then giving blood.
To give blood, potential donors must be between the ages of 18 and 65, or 60 years old if giving blood for the first time, as well as weighing a minimum of 50kg and not suffer from any chronic illness.
A blood drive is held on the first Sunday of every month at the Portimão hospital CHBA.
For more information, please contact the Associação de Dadores de Sangue do Barlavento do Algarve on 282 417 295, 967 062 748 or email [email protected]