Social networking giant Facebook launched a blood donation feature for Pakistan in collaboration with the Safe Blood Transfusion Programme (SBTP), Pakistan. The Feature makes it possible for people to easily sign up to be blood donors and to help connect donors with people in need and blood centers. This is the first time that Facebook has launched a feature specifically for Pakistan, a country with 35 million Facebook users.
Sarim Aziz, Strategic Platform Partnerships Facebook and Ms. Hema Budaraju, Product Manager Health Facebook held brainstorming sessions with Prof. Hasan Abbas Zaheer, National Coordinator, SBTP and crystallized the plans for the Facebook Blood Donation Feature for Pakistan. Facebook is the most sought after tool used by Pakistanis to locate blood donors in their vicinity. There are thousands of people who are part of such blood donation groups on Facebook. The Pakistan specific blood donation feature on the Facebook will allow potential donors and the blood centers to become connected in a coordinated manner.
SBTP has shared with Facebook a list of 50 reputable and donor friendly blood centers functioning across the country. This list will be included in the Pakistan FB Feature and the Blood Centers will be encouraged to develop their webpage and become connected with the FB Feature. The potential donor will register on the FB Feature and find out the location of the nearest recommended blood center. The donors would be encouraged to donate blood on their convenience and without waiting for an emergency to occur as all blood centers require a certain number of donations everyday to meet the routine and emergency needs. Upon visiting the blood center, the FB webpage of the blood center will identify the pre-registered donor and enter his or her donation in the Feature. The FB Feature will thus not only record the number of registered donors but also provide information about how many of them actually translated their commitment into action (blood donation) and how frequently. The impact assessment of the FB Feature will thus be generated in real time simultaneously. Success of this FB Feature can thus redefine the voluntary blood donation scenario in Pakistan in a most cost effective manner. It will also compliment the national efforts to promote blood safety being implemented through the German government funded Safe Blood Transfusion project which is developing a nationwide network of modern Regional Blood Centers.
Expressing his views on this Facebook launch Prof. Hasan Abbas Zaheer, National Coordinator SBTP said “SBTP is most excited to work with Facebook and jointly reach out to the millions of potential blood donors in the country. With a mean age of 22 years, Pakistan has a very large youth population and many of them are FB users as well. Properly tapping this tremendous resource was a programmatic gap until now. But I am confident that now with the help of this FB Feature this gap will soon become history”.
Earlier, the Facebook last year launched this social media application in India and Bangladesh to bring blood donors, people and blood centers together. In India so far 6 million people have become registered donors. Facebook is also discussing this initiative with the International Federation of Red Cross & Crescent (IFRC) for wider outreach in the Eastern Mediterranean region. According to Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook “ ..… we worked with non-profit organizations, blood banks and donors to build a tool to make it easier to give blood. Donors can register on Facebook and get a notification if a person or an organization nearby needs blood, and people who need donations can be connected to potential donors”. Ms. Hema Budaraju, Product Manager Health Facebook states that “We hope that by increasing awareness and providing tools for people and organizations in need to connect with those who are willing to help, we can make it easier for people to donate blood”.