World Blood Donor Day: UN honours volunteer donors
The United Nations health agency marks World Blood Donor Day by thanking the millions of anonymous donors who save lives every day by giving blood – and by raising awareness of the paucity of safe blood for billions of people around the world.
“Safe blood is a fundamental need for the health system of any country,” Dr. Lee Jong-wook, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said today. “WHO's 192 Member States have recently agreed that World Blood Donor Day will be an officially recognized annual event. This will help raise awareness of the continuing need for safe blood and safe donors.”
The chances of receiving a safe transfusion, or any transfusion at all, vary enormously from country to country, according to WHO. Some 60 percent of global blood supplies goes to 18 percent of the world's people, leaving 82 percent of the global population inadequately covered.
To remedy the situation, WHO said that it and other organizations have promoted nationally-coordinated blood services that rely on regular, voluntary, unpaid donations. It said that Malawi has managed to set up such a service in just two years despite the challenges of AIDS and underdevelopment.
At present, however, only 30 percent of countries have a nationally coordinated system in place, relying on family or paid donors, the agency said. In addition, most developing nations do not test for diseases such as HIV or hepatitis. As a result, contaminated blood still accounts for around five percent of HIV infections in Africa.
World Blood Donor Day is co-sponsored by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations and the International Society of Blood Transfusion.