National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the leading pension fund in Uganda has scooped the Best Media Management Campaign award for their Blood Donation Drive in the recently held prestigious Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU) Excellence Awards.
PRAU Excellence Awards recognize and celebrate the greatest achievements and innovations across the public relations and communications industry in Uganda.
NSSF was recognized for their excellent use of integrated media to mobilise the public to donate blood in January this year in order to bridge the blood shortage in the country, following an appeal from the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services.
The judges noted that the NSSF Blood Drive emerged winner because it displayed excellence in the media planning and execution of the campaign as well as showcased how Public relations played a pivotal role in the achievement of the campaign objectives.
Focusing on the countrywide shortage of blood and the importance in donating blood, NSSF worked closely with the media and UBTS to create awareness for blood donation under the hashtag #Yourtype online.
The campaign managed to mobilise thousands of people countrywide, collecting a total of 5,898 units of blood within a week above its target of 4,000 units. It further led to several organizations taking up the responsibility to organize blood drives to save more lives.
NSSF’s Head of Marketing and Communications Barbara Arimi, in her acceptance speech said NSSF carried out the blood drive to leverage the existing efforts in blood donation, because of the importance of blood in improving maternal health, reducing child mortality and deaths caused due to lack of blood.
National figures show that 6,000 women are dying every year during pregnancy and childbirth. Of these, over 24% are due to over bleeding. Another 103,000 children die before their 5th birthday and of these 39,000 are dying during their first month of life and 15,100 on their first day of life. 65% of blood transfusions are given to children under 5 years of age. More still there are over 16 million malaria cases in Uganda and of these 10,500 deaths are recorded.
Uganda has been grappling with blood shortage. According to World Health Organization, (WHO), Uganda needs about 340,000 units of blood annually although less than 200,000 units are collected annually. According to the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services, this is largely because of lack of a blood donation culture as well as underfunding that could further sink blood collections. In 2016, Shs14bn was allocated to the National Blood Transfusion Services against the needed Shs21 billion. Each whole unit of blood costs an average of Shs142,000 ($40) in donor recruitment, collection, testing, processing, storage and distribution. UBTS is only allocated about Shs40,000 and thus has a funding gap of about Shs14 billion.
“Since Blood is critical in the care and treatment of pregnant mothers before and during birth, pediatric care, HIV/AIDS, Cancer treatment as well as the treatment of malaria, by focusing on a countrywide blood donation drive, NSSF wanted to positively contribute to saving lives through this cause,” Ms Arimi said.
Ms Arimi said that this award affirms NSSF’s efforts in creating a better life for its members beyond its mandate, through community interventions that reach out to underprivileged people.