WHO: More voluntary blood donors neededListen /
The demand for blood and blood products is increasing every year, and many patients requiring life-saving transfusion do not have timely access to safe donated blood products, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In 2011, nearly 83 million blood donations were collected worldwide from voluntary unpaid blood donors, an increase of close to 8 million donations from 2004.
WHO is calling on health authorities to step up efforts to increase the number of regular voluntary unpaid blood donors, noting that they are the safest source of blood as there are fewer blood borne infections among these donors than among people who give blood in exchange for money or who donate for family members in emergencies.
Dr Neelam Dhingra, from WHO's Blood Transfusion Safety department, says there are at least 60 countries collecting 100 per cent of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors.
"If we compare figures the figures of 2004 and 2011, there is a 25 per cent increase in blood donations globally, but there is still a serious lack of timely access to blood for millions of patients around the world who do not have access to blood when needed in a timely manner-and with increasing needs we need more and more donors to give blood. WHO asks for all units of blood to be screened for four infections, which is HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis. In addition to that there are certain other infections which WHO recommends countries to screen for depending on prevalence and incidence in the population. And these are Malaria, Shagas disease, HTLV(leukemia), and also for West Nile Virus."
Dr Dhingra says providing safe and adequate supplies of blood and blood products should be an integral part of every country's national health care policy and infrastructure.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.