Members of the Pakistani Muslim community in Birmingham attended the launch of a new health project held recently. The project will see trained volunteers, called peer educators, from the Pakistani Muslim community raise awareness of the important need for organ, blood and bone marrow donation within their communities.
The project is being managed by Kidney Research UK, whose peer educator model has encouraged over 2,000 people from the Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. The charity is working with the National BAME Transplant Alliance (NBTA) partners, and the project is funded by the Department of Health.
In the last three years in the UK, families of patients approached for a decision about organ donation where the patient’s nationality was known to be Pakistani, less than 10% consented.
Around 70 people attended the launch, including members of the local community and several religious leaders. Jane Ellison MP, Under Secretary of State for Public Health, opened the event with a video message praising the work of the peer educators and their dedication to the cause.
There are almost 6,000 people in the UK waiting for a kidney transplant, of those, over 1,000 are Asian. A kidney from someone of the same ethnic group is likely to lead to a better matched organ, making it available sooner. Sadly, 70 Asian people died in the UK in the last year waiting for a kidney.
Neerja Jain, Kidney Research UK’s Health Improvement Projects Manager, said: “The shortage of donors from the Pakistani Muslim community is severe, so it’s vital we continue to engage with the community to help the community to explore the beliefs that can act as a barrier to donation. The passion of our peer educators helps drive this work forward, and we urgently need more to help spread the word.”
Jane Ellison, Public Health Minister,said: “Peer educators play a vital role in educating people about the need for more organ, blood and bone marrow donors, and work like this is crucial. Through their hard work, peer educators have the potential to save hundreds of lives and I wish them every success.”