You can now sign up as a blood donor via Facebook

The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) and the Western Cape Blood Service (WCBS) have partnered with Facebook to woo blood donors

SANBS's Zylvah Makola said South Africans over 18 years old will have the option to sign up as blood donors via the social media platform.

Donors will be notified when blood donor centres near them have an urgent need for donations. They would also be encouraged to invite friends to donate.

Makola said South Africa is the first African country to launch this Facebook feature.

"The initiative comes at a crucial time as the country starts to see a significant drop in blood donations as a result of people staying home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus," said Makola.

Makola said it was still safe to donate blood after the World Health Organisation made an announcement to say so.

"Since its launch in 2017, Facebook has partnered with blood donation centres around the world, with more than 60 million people having signed up to be blood donors on Facebook in the US, Brazil, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan," said Makola.

Facebook Africa regional director Nunu Ntshingila said it was committed to "building safe and supportive communities on Facebook during these difficult times".

"We want to make it easy to connect people that want to donate, with opportunities to give, while learning about the blood donation opportunities near them and inspiring action.

"This is an important partnership with SANBS and the Western Cape Blood Service, and one which we believe will make a positive difference to blood giving here in South Africa."