Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear young participants,
It is a great pleasure for me to speak today at 19th International Youth Forum, which is dedicated to the development of voluntary blood donorship among youth in Azerbaijan.
I would like to thank the Centre for Public Healthcare and Reforms of the Ministry of Healthcare and its partners for organising the Forum and giving me an opportunity to address the participants of this event.
Such fora provide an important platform to raise awareness about the benefits of voluntary donation and to dispel negative perception and myths about blood donation that are often so common in our part of the world.
Let me highlight some of the benefits.
First, we must recognize that voluntary blood donation is the purest and one of the best forms of volunteering.
It is a noble action in which we literally give a part of ourselves to serve others.
It is an action of care and proof of social sensitivity.
Second, safe access to safe blood is important to effective health particularly of women and children.
Voluntary donors are regarded as the safest source of blood.
Regular voluntary donations also ensure a more sustainable supply of safe blood.
According to WHO, over the last decade, we have been witnessing a rise in percentage of voluntary blood donation.
Now, 73 countries collect over 90 per cent of their blood supply from such donors.
We are happy to note that also in Azerbaijan this trend is on the increase and every year thousands of young people donate their blood particularly during the Ashura Day, which is a great way of commemorating this day.
However, more progress is needed as still 72 countries collect more than half of their blood supply from paid donors or replacement donors, which affects safety and adequate supply of blood and blood products.
Here, I would like to highlight the role of WHO which provides policy guidance and technical assistance to many countries to develop their national blood systems based on voluntary and unpaid blood donations to ensure that safe and quality blood and blood products are available and used appropriately for all people who need them.
Today we have the largest generation of youth in history which is a powerful force for change in all areas of life including healthcare.
The current generation of 1.8 billion have a tremendous impact on all parts of the health system.
We believe young people can lead us to a healthier future because:
- They can advocate for youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services that are free from coercion, discrimination, and violence.
- They can meaningfully get involved at all levels of society to facilitate positive social change, and influence policies and procedures that are demand-driven to address the health needs of their communities and countries, now and in the future.
Today, the world increasingly recognizes the role and participation of young people in sustainable development.
Last September, the United Nations launched its strategy on youth called: Youth Strategy 2030: Working with and for Young People.
This strategy combines recognition and meaningful participation of youth and opens the door for their substantive contribution to sustainable peace.
The strategy contributes to achieving the SDGS by focusing on core issues such as: sustainable peace; climate change; poverty alleviation; fighting diseases, and; literacy.
Here in Azerbaijan, we also work closely with young people to ensure their meaningful participation in society.
UN agencies, such as UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO and UNDP work together with their government counterparts to support youth skill development, adolescent health, youth employment and sport.
The UN in Azerbaijan has established a Youth Advisory Council, which informs UN programmes and activities on the ground and to ensure they are youth responsive.
Youth are actively involved in SDGs advocacy. We have appointed 17 SDGs youth Ambassadors to promote the Goals.
In conclusion, I am confident that this event will contribute to the widening of young people’s attitude towards voluntary blood donation.
Again, I would like to thank the organisers and wish you a successful Forum.