Over 200 soldiers donate blood at Jaffna Hospital

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Security Forces Headquarters, Jaffna has stepped in following an urgent appeal from Jaffna Teaching Hospital for blood.

Having obtained clearance from Army Headquarters, Security Forces Commander, Jaffna Maj. Gen. Darshana Hettiarachchi took immediate steps to donate blood.

A senior military official told The Island that the Army had immediately sent volunteers to enable hospital authorities to obtain required stock of blood.

"Over 200 personnel donated blood over a period of two days," the official said, adding that the military remained committed to meet blood requirement of all state-run hospitals in the Jaffna peninsula as well as any other medical facility in Jaffna islands.

Had there been a requirement for more blood, the Army could have easily sent in more men, the official said, emphasising that donors were all volunteers.

Since the conclusion of the war in May 2009, the Army has retained 51, 52 and 55 Divisions in the Jaffna peninsula.

Dr P. Kalaichelvi of Regional Blood Centre, Jaffna Teaching Hospital has requested Security Forces Headquarters, Jaffna, to provide blood in the wake of

stocks available depleting to critical level. The Army pointed out that the request had been received in the wake of the failure of hospital authorities to secure required blood from civilians.

The official said that the Army regularly donated blood to hospitals at Chavakachcheri, Point Pedro, Kodokamam, Athuveli et al. The Army said that many battalions deployed in the peninsula had been donating blood to hospitals in the Jaffna peninsula to mark their anniversaries. There had never been reluctance on the part of the Army to donate blood for the benefit of Tamil speaking civilians even at the height of fighting in the Northern theater of operations, the official said.

The armed forces brought Jaffna peninsula under their control in early 1996 after having liberating Jaffna town in Dec 1995.

The armed forces and police provide blood to hospitals in the Northern and Eastern Provinces in accordance with overall humanitarian objectives.

A senior military official said that those who had been campaigning for withdrawal of armed forces from the Northern Province since the end of the conflict were reluctant to acknowledge the contribution made by them. "We are now in the process of improving and expanding facilities at six northern hospitals," the official said, underscoring the pivotal importance of public-military cooperation.

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