The World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling for increased and regular blood donations from voluntary unpaid donors in order to save millions of lives globally each year.
In a statement to mark the World Blood Donor Day celebrated on June 14, the WHO said transfusion of blood and blood products help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions to live longer and maintain a higher quality of life.
It also helps support complex medical and surgical procedures.
‘The best way to guarantee a safe and adequate supply of blood and blood products for transfusion is to have a good supply of regular donations by voluntary unpaid blood donors,’ Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, said.
‘The WHO encourages all member states to obtain all their blood supplies from such donors,’ a statement issued by the WHO and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Friday said.
The theme of this year’s campaign: ‘Thank You For Saving My Life’ encouraged donors all over the world to donate blood voluntarily and regularly.
The statement said transfusion has an essential life-saving role in maternal childcare and during man-made and natural disasters.
It said severe bleeding during pregnancy, delivery or after childbirth was the single biggest cause of maternal death.
The statement said of the 289, 000 women who died in childbirth in 2013 due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth, 27 percent were due to severe bleeding.
It said the need for blood and blood products was increasing every year and in many countries, particularly low and middle income countries.
The statement said in 2012, nearly 108 million blood donations were collected worldwide and almost half of those were collected in high-income countries, home to just 15 percent of the world’s population.
It said WHO estimates that a minimum of 10 donations of blood per 1,000 population indicated that there was general availability of blood in a country for transfusion.
Yet, in the organisation’s most recent survey on blood safety and availability, 75 countries reported collecting fewer donations.
It observed that the percentage of blood donations from voluntary unpaid donors has been increasing over the last decade and 73 of the world’s countries now collected over 90 percent of their blood supply from such donors.
It said more progress was needed, with 72 countries (eight high-income countries, 48 middle-income countries and 16 low-income countries) still collecting more than 50 percent of their blood supply from paid donors or replacement donors which affects safety and adequate supply of blood and blood products.
The statement said replacement donors were often family members or friends who replenished blood used from a blood bank by a particular patient.
‘Blood collection from voluntary, unpaid donors, whose blood is screened for infections is the cornerstone of a safe and sufficient blood supply in all countries,’ Dr Hernan Montenegro, Coordinator for Services Organisation and Clinical Interventions Unit in the Department of Service Delivery and Safety at WHO, said.
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