On World Blood Donor Day, WHO has asked potential blood donors in the South-East Asia Region and throughout the world to “join the effort” to save lives, improve health, and promote health equity by making regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donations. “An estimated 118.5 million blood donations are received worldwide,” says Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia. “Approximately 40 percent of these donations are collected from high-income countries, which account for just 16 percent of the world’s population.”
The majority of blood transfusions in low-income countries are given to children under the age of five and to address pregnancy-related issues, making unpaid volunteer donations a critical weapon in the fight against maternal, neonatal, and child mortality.”
“An estimated 2 million more units of blood from voluntary unpaid donors are urgently needed 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 toward universal health coverage (UHC), health system resilience, and Health for All,” Singh said.
According to the WHO Regional Director, throughout the COVID-19 response, countries in the Southeast Asian region have maintained the essential blood donation and transfusion services and also increased the quality of donor care, enhanced the clinical use of blood, and strengthened oversight and surveillance of the chain of blood transfusion.
She further said that all the donated blood was screened for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and syphilis, and more than 80 per cent is collected from voluntary unpaid donors.
From 2008 to 2018, the Region reported the highest proportional increase in voluntary unpaid blood donations among all WHO regions and the second-highest increase in absolute numbers.
Singh further emphasized national action plans for blood donation, she said that several priorities require attention.
The first group consists of policymakers and programme managers. They should reassess and, where necessary, revise national blood action plans, while generating enough and dependable funding to implement them.
“Second, health facility administrators and managers should strengthen health worker capacity to properly collect, store, and give blood and blood products, developing a quality culture that includes all components of the blood transfusion chain.” She stated
“Third, authorities should standardise data collecting and reporting, as well as put in place standardised mechanisms for traceability, surveillance, hemovigilance, and pharmacovigilance for both public and private sector providers. Program managers, educators, and civil society organisations should raise knowledge of the benefits of frequent blood donation, particularly among young people, who should be encouraged to make blood donation a habit “Regional Office of WHO, Director added.
Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh also urged data collecting and blood donation awareness.