Sat, 21 Feb 2004

Blood demand rises as dengue worsens

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The severe dengue fever outbreak in the capital has increased the demand for blood by 200 percent since last month, said an Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) official.

PMI Jakarta blood bank division head Yudi Artini said on Friday that since early February, the demand for blood reached an average 300 blood pouches per day. Last month's average was 100 pouches daily.

"Most hospitals across the city that made requests for blood to PMI Jakarta said the blood would be given to dengue fever patients," she told The Jakarta Post, adding that state-run Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital had the highest order, followed by a number of city-run hospitals.

A dengue fever patient needs a transfusion of blood enriched with thrombocyte -- small nucleated blood cells that initiates the process of clotting -- to stem hemorrhaging from the disease.

To meet the increasing demand, PMI Jakarta has been asking families of dengue fever patients to donate their blood to replenish the PMI's stock.

"This way, it is unlikely that we will run out of (blood) supply," said Yudi.

She said the increasing demand was understandable, given that an adult with dengue fever needed 10 pouches of blood while a child needed five.

The government has officially declared the dengue fever outbreak as "extraordinary", meaning that extra measures are needed to contain the disease.

At least 195 people have died from dengue fever nationwide and 10,140 others have been infected as of Friday. On Thursday, the figures were 188 and 9,365, respectively.

In Jakarta alone, 38 have died from the disease while 1,200 others have been admitted to a number of hospitals since the outbreak started, the city health agency reported.

The World Health Organization said that dengue fever, which is transmitted by aedes aegypti mosquitoes, peaked in five-year cycles and the current outbreak has come at the peak of this cycle.

The health agency recorded 14,071 cases in the city last year, slightly lower than the 15,360 cases in 1998.

PMI Jakarta workers called on concerned citizens to help dengue fever patients by donating blood.

NOTE: Prospective donors can contact PMI Jakarta at (021) 327 711/390 6666/390 9259 for further information.