The value of blood donors to national health systems

The need for blood is universal, but access to blood for all those who need it is not. Blood shortages are particularly acute in developing countries

Sonam Penjor

To raise global awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion, and to make unpaid blood donors a boon to national health systems, the World Blood Donor Day is celebrated on 14 June every year.

The day also provides an opportunity to call to action governments and national health authorities to provide adequate resources and put into place systems and infrastructures to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors.

For 2021, the World Blood Donor Day slogan is “Give blood and keep the world beating.” It highlights the essential contribution blood donors make to keeping the world pulsating by saving lives and improving others’ health. It reinforces the global call for more people all over the world to donate blood regularly and contribute to better health.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), safe blood and blood products and their transfusion are a critical aspect of care and public health. They save millions of lives and improve the health and quality of life of many patients every day.

The need for blood is universal, but access to blood for all those who need it is not. Blood shortages are particularly acute in developing countries.

The WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, said the South East Region continues to accelerate action to ensure that everyone, everywhere has timely access to sufficient and secure blood and blood products, and safe transfusion services.

“Blood transfusions are required to treat and manage a range of health conditions that people from all countries, of all incomes, experience, from thalassemia and haemophilia to complications during pregnancy and childbirth, severe trauma and surgical procedure.”

A press release from the Ministry of Health states that the “World Blood Donor Day’’ is observed with the aim to thank the regular blood donors and raise global awareness on the importance of regular blood donations to secure safe blood and blood products for use in the health care system.

Safe blood and blood products and their transfusion are a critical aspect of patient care and public health. They save millions of lives and improve the health and the quality of life of many patients every day.

To ensure that everyone who needs blood has access to safe blood and blood products, there is a need for voluntary blood donors who give blood regularly.

“Therefore, as we observe the World Blood Donor day 2021 with the slogan Give blood and keep the world beating, the ministry thank all the blood donors across the country, particularly those who have made extraordinary efforts to continue to donate blood and save lives during such unprecedented crisis of Covid-19, despite the limited mobility and other challenges,” the press release stated.

The Ministry of Health also encouraged everyone to embrace the humanitarian call to donate blood and save many lives.

The Regional Director further said that the region has in recent years made steady and sustained progress. All countries in the region have developed national blood policies, which they continue to implement.

“Most countries have in place national guidelines on the appropriate clinical use of blood, which is critical to preventing unnecessary transfusions and efficiently utilizing available blood stocks,” she said.

Amid the ongoing Covid-19 response, Dr Poonam said that WHO would continue to support countries in the region to maintain and strengthen blood donation and blood transfusion services.

Meanwhile, Dr Poonam reiterated that young people must be at the fore of blood recruitment strategies.

“Young people are full of idealism, enthusiasm and creativity.” Region-wide, hundreds of millions of young people are looking to change their communities and countries for the better,” she said.