WHO

WHO: We Need More Voluntary Blood Donors

Increasing their number is the best way to save millions of lives each year, according to the organization's message for World Blood Donor Day 2015.

The World Health Organization's message for World Blood Donor Day (June 14) is that many more people should be volunteering to give blood donations regularly, without pay, in order to save millions of lives globally each year. This year's campaign theme is "Give freely, give often. Blood donation matters."

"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," said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO's director-general. "WHO encourages all Member States to obtain all their blood supplies from such donors."

WHO noted that blood transfusions play an essential, life-saving role in maternal and child care and during man-made and natural disasters and that severe bleeding during pregnancy, delivery, or after childbirth is the single biggest cause of maternal death: Of the 289,000 women who died in childbirth in 2013 due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth, 27 percent were caused by severe bleeding.

The need for blood and blood products is increasing every year. In many countries, particularly that that are low and middle income countries, demand exceeds supply and blood services find it hard to make sufficient blood available while also ensuring its quality and safety, according to WHO, which reported that nearly 108 million blood donations were collected worldwide during 2012, and almost half of them were collected in high-income countries, where only 15 percent of the world's population lives.

Although WHO estimates a minimum of 10 donations of blood per 1,000 population indicates there is general availability of blood in a country for transfusions, 75 countries reported on WHO's most recent survey on blood safety and availability that they collect fewer donations than this.

"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," said Dr. Hernan Montenegro, coordinator for Services Organization and Clinical Interventions Unit in the Department of Service Delivery and Safety at WHO. "More voluntary blood donors are needed to meet the increasing needs and to improve access to this life-saving therapy."

This year, the host country for the World Blood Donor Day global event is China. The event will take place on June 14 at the Shanghai Blood Centre, which is also the WHO Collaborating Centre for Blood Transfusion Services in China.

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