‘Safe blood saves lives’

AS the National Blood Transfusion Services gets in gear to host an awards ceremony tomorrow to celebrate World Blood Donor Day, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is reiterating that blood donations are more necessary than ever during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In a message for World Blood Donor Day, celebrated every June 14, PAHO Director Carissa F Etienne said blood centres throughout the Americas are taking measures to ensure that donations continue in a safe manner for blood donors and recipients.

“The safest blood comes through voluntary unpaid donation from people like you and me. Donation is an act of solidarity and altruism, which the world needs now more than ever in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Etienne said.

She also offered, “On World Blood Donor Day, I want to offer my deepest thanks to blood donors throughout the region of the Americas for giving the gift of life.”

The World Health Assembly in 2005 designated World Blood Donor Day as a special day to thank blood donors and encourage more people to give blood freely, and to raise awareness about the global need for safe blood and how everyone can contribute. The 2020 campaign theme is ‘Safe blood saves lives’ with the slogan “Give blood and make the world a healthier place”. PAHO said the idea is to focus on the contribution an individual giver can make to improve health.

As the Blood Bank marks World Blood Donor Day with an awards ceremony, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton is expected to give the main address at the event, which is slated for the National Blood Transfusion Services at 21 Slipe Pen Road in Kingston.

The awardees will include individuals and organisations in the categories uniformed forces, advocates, top high schools, and the youngest donor, an advisory from the Ministry of Health and Wellness said.

PAHO said in the region of the Americas, the main celebration is being hosted by Paraguay, in recognition of their achievements in increasing blood voluntary donations.

During a four-year period, Paraguay increased the availability of blood by 1.5 units per 1,000 inhabitants and increased voluntary donation by 5.3 per cent. Other global and regional events for World Blood Donor Day are taking place virtually, PAHO said.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, blood donors make it possible to transfuse more than 10 million units of blood each year, which are vital for protecting the health and lives of patients who need transplants, people living with cancer, women suffering post-partum haemorrhage and people injured in acts of violence or road traffic accidents, PAHO said.

The need for safe blood is universal, but access to safe blood is still a privilege of the few.

According to the international public health agency, most low- and middle-income countries have low availability of safe blood because of the relatively low levels of voluntary donors and capacity in blood collection. Globally, 42 per cent of blood is collected in high-income countries, which are home to only 16 per cent of the world’s population.

World Blood Donor Day is a call to action for governments, national health authorities and those responsible for blood services to provide adequate resources and put in place systems and infrastructures to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors; to provide quality donor care; to promote and implement appropriate clinical use of blood; and to set up systems for the oversight and surveillance on the whole chain of blood transfusion.

“We continue to support all PAHO member countries in developing efficient and quality blood services, so that donors can make safe blood donations and that all patients will have access to safe blood when they need it,” Dr Etienne said.

International organisations, including the World Health Organization, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations, the International Society of Blood Transfusion, American Association of Blood Banks, Ibero American Cooperative Group of Transfusion Medicine, among others, collaborate to provide guidance and support to their membership on blood donations.

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