From the Principal

Blood donation, a life-changing service

At its heart, The University of the West Indies is an institution of service. As we celebrate our 75th year in 2023, it is important to remember and reaffirm that fundamental purpose. The UWI’s most obvious role is to provide education and training, advance knowledge through research, and inform policy through its knowledge and expertise. Underlying these immediate services is the essential service – developing the Caribbean, our home, and making it a better place to live, for this and succeeding generations. One of the main ways of fulfilling that fundamental purpose, apart from our core services, is outreach.

As part of this year’s commemoration of The UWI’s establishment in 1948, the St Augustine campus chose to highlight one of our most consistent and impactful outreach activities – The UWI Blood Donor Foundation’s (UWIBDF) Voluntary Non-remunerated Blood Drive. It was held on April 29 at the Mt Hope Blood Bank at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC).

The outstanding team at The UWIBDF is led by Dr Kenneth Charles, one of Trinidad and Tobago’s most powerful advocates for the life-saving benefits of blood donation, who has for many years worked to raise awareness on the importance of a national blood supply, and engage our society’s charitable instincts. The UWI St Augustine campus, through Dr Charles, led the effort to change the nation’s blood donation policy. Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health has now adopted this voluntary model of blood donations.

The blood drive itself is a collective effort. UWI St Augustine worked in close partnership with the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Health and the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) to make it a success. Of course, the blood drive could not have succeeded without the personnel at the event that ensured the environment was safe, secure, and comforting, and that the services were provided to donors and other attendees efficiently.

Apart from giving people the opportunity to donate blood, the blood drive offered several free services – blood pressure screening, blood glucose testing, and body mass index (BMI) calculation.

The work of UWIBDF is an example of not only The UWI at its best, but also Trinidad and Tobago society. Since 2015, UWIBDF has been successfully collaborating on this initiative, consistently collecting over 100 units of blood to add to the national blood supply. That means ordinary citizens are giving of their time and this vital resource with no reward other than the intrinsic benefits of altruism, national pride, and a desire to help others. In this regard, Apart from the material benefit of bolstering T&T’s blood supply, The UWI is bolstering the spirit of giving in society. Our desire is to see that spirit spread. Charitable activities and a sense of community are two of the most underrated assets for national development.

As The UWI commemorates 75 years as a Caribbean institution, we should hold outreach efforts like the blood drive as reflection points on the university’s truest purpose. We are educators, researchers, experts, advisors, and archivists of the most valuable knowledge. But ultimately, we are agents tasked with making this region a better place. That includes activities to support individuals and communities, informed by selflessness, and guided by compassion.

In closing, I encourage everyone that is able to do so, to donate blood through recognised and legitimate agencies such as The UWIBDF and the Ministry of Health. Your contributions can save lives.

Follow The UWIBDF on Facebook at or Instagram at and the Ministry of Health at to access safe and secure blood donation services.