On this year’s World Blood Donor Day, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has raised the alarm over the low rate of blood collection, calling on governments, partners, and all stakeholders to mobilise support at all levels to invest in strengthening as well as sustaining blood programmes.
WHO disclosed that at the moment, blood collection remains low at an average donation rate of 5.9 units per 1000 people compared to 33. 1 donation per 1000 people in high-income countries.
In a message to mark this year’s World Blood Donor Day, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti stressed the need to address persistent challenges to ensure sustainable access to safe and quality-assured blood and blood products for needy patients.
She said of concern is the financial barrier to accessing safe blood.
“In the WHO Africa Region, patients pay, on average, US$ 42 out of pocket to access safe blood.”
She said donating blood is an act of solidarity and becoming a blood donor will help ease the pressure on health systems and save lives.
“A blood service that gives patients access to safe blood and blood products in sufficient quantity is a key component of an effective health system providing patient-centred healthcare and focusing on assuring equitable access with the aim of progressing to achieving Universal Health Coverage,” she said.
She explained that World Blood Donor Day is celebrated every year on 14 June to raise awareness of safe blood and blood products, such as plasma, and highlight the critical contribution of voluntary, unpaid blood donors to save lives.
Noting that this year’s campaign slogan was “Give blood, give plasma, share life, share often.”, Moeti said the theme underlines the role every person can play by regularly giving the valuable gift of blood to create a safe and sustainable supply of blood as well as blood products that can always be available to needy patients.
She said though Member States in the WHO African Region have made significant progress in establishing nationally coordinated blood transfusion services, policy frameworks, and national standards for collecting, testing, processing, storing, and distributing blood and blood products, only eight countries have blood services that are designed to always ensure the highest levels of quality and safety for patients and donors.
“Reliance on non-renumerated blood donors is still high, with 16 countries accounting for over 80 per cent of voluntary non-remunerated blood donation.
“Results from a survey conducted in 2022 revealed that 16 countries out of 39 that took part in the survey, had more than 80 per cent of voluntary non-remunerated blood donation (VNRBD), and 19 countries had less than 50 per cent of voluntary non-remunerated blood donation. Thirty countries reported that plasma-derived medicinal products were listed on their essential medicines list. These statistics show that there is a need for more work to be done in the African Region to improve access to safe blood and blood products.
“We must raise adequate and sustainable funding and increase blood donation rates. We also need to build the capacity of countries to separate donated blood into its components such as red cell concentrates, platelet concentrates, fresh frozen plasma, and cryoprecipitate, and curb inappropriate clinical transfusion practices.”
Moeti said WHO Regional Office for Africa is working with partners to leverage expertise and available resources in the region to ensure improved access to supplies of plasma-derived products through the fractionation of domestic plasma.
“I would like to emphasize the critical roles of regular voluntary unpaid blood and plasma donations in achieving universal access to safe blood products for all populations.”