World Blood Donor Day

World Blood Donor Day

Donating blood is an act of solidarity. Join the effort and save lives.

By Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia

This World Blood Donor Day, WHO is urging potential blood donors in the South-East Asia Region and across the world to “join the effort” to save lives, improve health and advance health equity by making regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donations. An estimated 118.5 million blood donations are collected worldwide, of which around 40% are collected from high-income countries, home to just 16% of the world’s population. In low-income countries, a majority of blood transfusions are given to children under 5 years of age and to manage pregnancy-related complications, making regular donations by voluntary unpaid donors a critical tool in the fight against maternal, neonatal and child mortality. An estimated 2 million more units of blood are urgently required from voluntary unpaid donors in the Region to help patients of all ages live longer and with a higher quality of life, to support complex medical and surgical procedures, and to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage (UHC), health system resilience and Health for All.

Throughout the COVID-19 response, countries of the Region have continued to implement national blood policies, with a focus on maintaining essential blood donation and transfusion services, increasing the quality of donor care, enhancing the clinical use of blood, and strengthening oversight and surveillance of the chain of blood transfusion. All blood donated in the Region is screened for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis, and more than 80% is collected from voluntary unpaid donors. From 2008 to 2018, the Region reported the highest proportional increase of voluntary unpaid blood donations among all WHO regions, and the second-highest increase in absolute numbers. Amid the pandemic response, WHO has conducted a series of online trainings to increase Member State capacity to achieve the outputs of the WHO Action Framework to advance universal access to safe, effective and quality-assured blood products, as well as WHO’s five-year plan to help build effective and efficient regulatory systems.

Several priorities require targeted attention. First, policy makers and programme managers should reappraise and where appropriate update national blood action plans while mobilizing adequate and reliable financing to implement the same. Second, health facility administrators and managers should increase health worker capacity to safely collect, store and administer blood and blood products, instilling a culture of quality that encompasses all aspects of the chain of blood transfusion. Third, policy makers should standardize data collection and reporting and implement uniform systems for traceability, surveillance, haemovigilance and pharmacovigilance for both public and private sector providers. Fourth, programme managers, educators and civil society groups should increase awareness of the benefits of regular blood donation, especially among youth, who should be encouraged to make blood donation a habit.

Every blood donation improves or saves lives and enhances social solidarity. It sends a powerful message of mutual aid, civic commitment and social buy-in to UHC and Health for All. For healthy adults, blood donation is not only safe, but provides a sense of belonging and pride, as well as a free health check-up. By establishing a stable base of regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donors, and by securing the chain of blood transfusion, communities and countries in the Region can ensure all people have timely and equitable access to safe, effective, and quality-assured blood and blood products. On World Blood Donor Day, WHO celebrates and salutes voluntary unpaid blood donors, urges all potential blood donors to join the effort to save lives and improve health, and reiterates its commitment to ensure all Member States have in place nationally coordinated, efficiently managed, sustainable and self-sufficient blood systems.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *