The inadequate, inaccessible, unsafe and inequitable supply of blood had been a perennial health and medical problem of Davao province in Mindanao. Only one out of 500 Davaoeños voluntarily donated blood and only three out of ten patients needing blood transfusion were served. Seven of every ten blood bags transfused came from paid donors which were likely to have blood transmittable diseases. A more alarming scenario was the increasing cases of morbidity and mortality in government-owned hospitals due to inadequacy of blood supply. Even with an annual P500,000 subsidy from the provincial government, the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) was unable to meet the blood needs of the more than one million residents of Davao. The blood bank of PNRC in Tagum, the capital town could only supply 17 percent of the total demand. Around five percent came from the commercial blood banks in Davao City which is one hour away from Tagum by land.
This situation prompted the province to launch a voluntary blood sufficiency program when the health services were devolved to local government units in 1992. The program aimed to satisfy at least 75 percent of the actual demand of blood from an existing supply of only 22 percent by developing greater public awareness establishing a network of blood pool through volunteerism and community-based initiatives; upgrading of facilities for screening donors; collection, examination and processing of blood and its components; safe, sterile storage and distribution; and promotion of rational blood utilization. The program operated on a blood replacement scheme which allowed an individual to borrow blood with a pledge of replacing it later by a suitable donor.
The most important achievement of the program was the creation of an adequate, province-wide blood supply network among its 22 municipalities. Community-based bloodletting campaigns produced more voluntary blood donors who availed of free regular consultation and treatment. With the activation of the community-based network, a total of 4,463 potential deaths were averted. The program had also succeeded in erasing myths and misconceptions about the hazards of donating blood. It also significantly reduced blood spoilage and wastage among public hospitals. The wastage rate was only 1.8% compared to 10 PNRC which was 3.9%. The spoiled blood was also disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner. The program can serve as a model for the implementation of Republic Act 7719 - the National Blood Services Act of 1994 which calls for a national voluntary blood services program.
This program is recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Programs in the 1997 Galing Pook Awards.