Blood Donor Day: Demand exceeding blood supply major challenges

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Blood transfusion has a critical role in healthcare benefiting patients who face life-threatening conditions. It supports complex medical and surgical procedures, making them indispensable in maternal and childcare, as well as during natural or man-made disasters.

However, blood demand exceeds supply which poses a major challenge for blood services to make sufficient blood available while ensuring its quality and safety. Voluntary unpaid blood donations are only the option for safe and sufficient blood supply. World Blood Donor Day which is held on 14 June is a worldwide celebration to honour and thank those people who donate their blood, voluntarily and unpaid, to give others the gift of life.

WHO established the Global Database for Blood Safety in 1998 to assess blood transfusion services’ strengths and weaknesses among member states. “Our Region recorded around 22.3 million whole blood donations, with 100% screened for transfusion-transmitted infections (TTI) and ABO grouping. Hemovigilance and quality assurance for TTI and serology testing are improving, supported by WHO-SEARO through regional programs. WHO revived the Blood Achilles project in Indonesia to achieve self-sufficiency in plasma-derived medicinal products (PDMPs), with Thailand and India already producing PDMPs. WHO continues to support member states with technical assistance and training to ensure safe blood supply, revising guidance documents to enhance national blood transfusion services”, said Saima Wazed, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.

She said we urge everyone to promote a culture of regular blood donation, and increase the diversity and sustainability of the blood donor pool. Find out your blood type, register as a blood donor, donate blood and encourage your friends and family to become regular blood donors.

Dr. Gaurav Kharya, Director, Center for Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, said Patients with blood disorders may need regular blood transfusions to manage symptoms and complications. However, unsafe blood transfusions can cause life-threatening infections and adverse reaction.

He added unfortunately, in India, especially in rural and remote areas, there is still much work to be done to ensure safe blood transfusion.

“We need a strong infrastructure for blood collection, screening, and distribution across the country. Implementing strict screening protocols, such as integrating Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) facilities to screen donated blood for transfusion-transmitted infections, is crucial to eliminate bloodborne infections. Besides, promoting voluntary blood donation is equally important to ensure an adequate blood supply”, says Dr. Gaurav Kharya.