Volunteer contributions on the rise as UN marks World Blood Donor Day

14 June 2011

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) marked World Blood Donor Day today – the beginning of a week-long series of events aimed at encouraging voluntary donations – with the announcement of a marked increase in donations around the globe.

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) marked World Blood Donor Day today – the beginning of a week-long series of events aimed at encouraging voluntary donations – with the announcement of a marked increase in donations around the globe.

The number of countries collecting all their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors increased by more than 50 per cent between 2002 and 2008, WHO said in a press statement.

World Blood Donor Day is celebrated each year to highlight the contribution voluntary, unpaid blood donors make to public health. This year’s slogan “More blood, more life” aims to encourage still more people to come forward to give blood and save more lives, WHO said.

“WHO’s goal is for all countries to obtain all blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donations by 2020,” said Neelam Dhingra, Coordinator of Blood Transfusion Safety at WHO.

“Nine years ago, 39 countries were obtaining all their blood supplies from voluntary, unpaid donors. In 2008 that figure had gone up to 62. We hope that World Blood Donor Day will encourage more people in more countries to become regular voluntary blood donors.”

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, this year’s host for World Blood Donor Day, Ban Soon-taek, the wife of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, helped launch a week’s activities that included, special football matches, a national marathon, and the culmination of a months-long “Domino Project,” which has been building awareness and mobilizing blood donations through all regions of Argentina, one after the other.

WHO estimates that blood donations by at least 1 per cent of the population is generally sufficient to meet a country’s basic requirements for safe blood. Requirements are higher in countries with more developed health systems. The greatest needs include: to replace blood lost in childbirth (a major cause of maternal deaths worldwide), and to treat severe anaemia that threatens the lives of thousands of children who have malaria or are undernourished.

 

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