Photo of blood donors from Straits Times

According to the latest figures from the Health Science Authority (HSA), demand for blood has increased 17%, or 111,633 units of blood, in the five years between 2016 and 2011. The amount of blood collected however only increased 10%, 115,976 units, in the same period – similar to the population growth where the population in 2011 then was 5.18 million, and jumped 10% to 5.7 million population today.

Singapore’s blood demand will also likely worsen as the government imports more adult immigrants who do not contribute to the birth rate. In addition to blood demand, Singapore is also facing a severe shortage of hospital beds, and likely to be burdened further following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s 2030 6.9 million population target.

However, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong claimed otherwise. Speaking at a blood donor appreciation ceremony today (June 10), Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that Singapore is now in greater need of blood donors due to the ageing population instead:

“On the one hand, an ageing population means blood demands will increase. The elderly are more likely to develop age-related medical diseases like heart disease and stroke. The demand for blood to support more medical and surgical procedures may also continue to rise. Unlike younger patients, the elderly may have a lower tolerance for anaemia due to their underlying medical conditions and are more likely to need blood transfusions to prevent complications. On the other hand, our blood donor pool may shrink, as regular donors can no longer give blood if ill health strikes when they get older.”

Although Minister Gan Kim Yong made no mention about the population growth, there is also no mention of the government’s response to the impending blood shortage following a rapidly ageing population. Going by linear calculations based off the data in the 5 years and assuming Singapore’s population grow at the same pace, States Times Review calculated that Singapore will start facing a blood shortage  5.5 years in 2023 when its population hit 6.3 million.