Freemasons address blood shortage

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has praised freemasons in Jamaica for their national blood drive initiative and encouraged more citizens to donate the life-saving fluid.

“We have a tradition in Jamaica where we only give blood when somebody forces you to give blood, and normally the blood bank makes an appeal when someone is in need and tries to leverage that appeal to a wider population, based on that individual circumstance. That’s normally the strategy that we pursue to get as many people volunteering as possible,” Tufton said on Saturday, November 4 as he officially launched the blood collection drive at National Chest Hospital in St Andrew.

This strategy, he said, is effective to an extent because the aim is to use those opportunities to increase blood storage.

He also encouraged Jamaicans and the freemason community to take advantage of the mobile clinics made available by the Ministry of Health and Wellness as an avenue to reach out to more Jamaicans.

“In recent times we unveiled two new buses, which now allow the blood bank to move into communities to get blood and I now encourage you to take advantage of that facility. In other words, if you decide you want to go down to Mandeville and do something in the public square you can just drive with the mobile clinic and just park up with the team and we just encourage people to give blood,” he stated.

November 4, 2023, was designated National Blood Drive Day by the local freemason community — Scottish, English and Irish constitutions — in collaboration with the National Blood Transfusion Service and the National Health Fund.

The freemasons said they staged the drive to augment the low stocks at the blood bank as too often there is an urgent need for supplies which are not on hand.

Head of the Scottish constitution, District Grandmaster of Jamaica Dr Courtney Palmer emphasised the pressing demand for blood in Jamaica and highlighted the insufficiency of available blood compared to the frequency of accidents in the country.

“We are aware that in Jamaica, especially as it comes closer to the festive season, the demand for blood increases exponentially. We have more accidents and more need for blood at this time of the year, so it is not by chance that we have arranged this blood collection drive for the month of November going into the festive season,” Dr Palmer said at the launch.

“We have rallied all our brethren in Jamaica for all three constitutions — Scottish, the English and the Irish. We have asked them to energise their connections and have them come out to donate some blood because we do need the blood and we hope that we will have large numbers of blood being donated for the benefit of all the citizens in Jamaica,” Dr Palmer added.

He expressed a wish for all voluntary and charitable organisations to unite with the freemason community to strengthen their efforts in promoting the worthy cause.

Head of the Irish Constitution, Peter Stuart, also used the opportunity to encourage Jamaicans to give blood, noting that the country is currently in a blood crisis.

“There is never enough blood,” he stressed. “I used to give blood regularly when I was younger and there was never enough blood, and now we have more vehicles on the road — more than back then — so more vehicles mean more accidents and more accidents mean more need for blood,” he stated.