By HemaBudaraju, Product Manager, Health and Ritesh Mehta, Head of Programs, South Asia
India, like many countries, has a shortage of safe blood. There aren’t enough people donating blood to meet the demand of people who need it. In some cases, this shortage leads to patients and their family being responsible for finding donors to replace blood in the blood banks or hospitals. This can cause high-stress situations as people try to find blood donors on their own — including by reaching out to their network on Facebook.
We think we can help — by finding ways to more efficiently bring blood donors and people in need together. In India, this drives thousands of people to request blood donors on Facebook each week. Our research suggests that when people have better information and tools, they’re more willing to donate blood — and it’s easier for people who need blood to find donors.
That’s why today we’re announcing a new effort to make it easier for people to sign up to be donors and a new way to connect people and organizations with information and tools to find blood donors when needed. We have worked together with nonprofit organizations, health industry experts, potential donors, and people who have used Facebook to find blood donors to ensure that what we are designing will be useful to people in India.
Making it Easier to Become a Blood Donor
Starting October 1 — National Blood Donor Day — Facebook users in India will be able to start signing up to be blood donors. To help encourage participation, we’ll show a message in News Feed or people can edit their Profiles to sign up. All information will remain private and set to “only me” by default, but people can choose to share their donor status on their timelines. This will first be available on Android and mobile web, as these are the most widely-used platforms in India.
Connecting Individuals and Organizations with Blood Donors
In the next few weeks, we’ll also make it easier for people and organizations, such as blood banks and hospitals, to connect with blood donors on Facebook. When in need of blood, they’ll be able tocreate aspecial type of p individuals or organizations are ost with all the information donors need to easily offer help. When a request is created, Facebook will automatically notify blood donors who may be nearby to help spread the word. Donors can then review the request and, if they wish to respond, contact the requestor directly through WhatsApp, Messenger or a phone call. The person who needs blood won’t be able to see any information about the donor, unless the donor explicitly provides it when he/she reaches out to the person in need of blood.
We hope this new feature helps people come together in ways that weren’t possible before. By raising awareness and growing the number of blood donors in India, we want to make it easier for people and organizations to give and receive blood.
On the occasion, some of the social organisations working towards the causesaid:
Sonu Singh, Manager – Communications and Operations, Rotary Blood Bank
“Rotary blood bank started out in 2002, but we still face a large gap in blood supplies compared to what’s required. If we could encourage just a small percentage of the population to donate, it would have a huge impact. Facebook is uniquely positioned to help – they are a large community of trusted connections. People are much more inclined to donate when there is a story behind the request. We look forward to partnering with Facebook to help bring change in a donor’s mindset and to motivate more people in India to donate blood.”
Vishnu Vardhan. T, CEO of NTR Trust
“India still faces shortage of safe blood. There are a multitude of challenges for blood banking in India. Lack of awareness about blood donation, reduced connectivity between the patient and the potential donor, etc. making the blood donation process cumbersome. While India is 1+ billion strong, still there aren’t enough blood donors in time of need. Facebook has long been a positive platform for people in India to connect with Blood Donors and help those in need. NTR Trust welcomes Facebook’s efforts to help make it even easier for people to donate blood in India. We look forward to working together to raise awareness of the importance of donating blood and collectively catalyze sustainable access to safe blood in India. What Facebook is doing has the potential to bring tectonic shifts in Blood Banking in India.”
Mr. Harsh Arora, Founder, SarthakPrayas
“Matching blood donors with seekers quickly is a challenging task, especially when we are working against time or the need is for a hard to find blood group. The ability to tap into a pool of donors on Facebook can help solve some of the problems that exist currently. Over the last few months, we have given Facebook ideas around how this new feature can add the most value and it’s great to see some of those implemented!”