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Ethnic minority groups are being urged to give blood, as a survey suggests only 3% of donors are from the Asian, African or Afro-Caribbean communities.
The campaign is being launched by the National Blood Service (NBS).
One problem is that some Muslims wrongly believe donation is against the teachings of Islam, NBS officials said.
The NBS launched a similar campaign last year, but say it is unlikely to have reached its target of recruiting 20% more donors from ethnic minorities.
The survey of 1,750 people also found those from ethnic minorities were nearly six times less likely to know their own blood type when compared with the national average.
Only 7% said they knew their own blood type compared with 41% nationally.
The NBS, which covers England and North Wales, has launched the “Are you my type?” public awareness campaign to recruit more blood donors from ethnic minority communities.
It says the issue is crucial because a number of blood types are more common and specific to people from certain ethnic backgrounds.
For example blood group B is more commonly found in black African/Caribbean populations and U negative — a rare sub-group — is only found in these communities.
In addition, 25% of Asians are blood group B compared to 9% of western Europeans.
The NBS says Muslim scholars have issued assurances that donating blood is not only permitted, but praiseworthy
‘Save a life’
Rakesh Vasishtha, of the National Blood Service said: “It’s vital that we get our message across to everyone within ethnic communities that donating blood is quick, safe, easy and could save a life.
“By making the issues clearer we hope to increase awareness about the importance of blood donation and encourage more ethnic minorities to donate blood.”
“We are working hard to communicate to people the importance of blood and in particular to create more ethnic diversity amongst blood donors.
“As such, these findings are important as they indicate less general awareness of blood related issues amongst particular communities.”
(Posted on August 22, 2005)