In Latin America and the Caribbean, voluntary donation accounts for less than half of all blood supplies. For World Blood Donor Day, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is calling for countries to strengthen their voluntary, unpaid blood donation systems, the best way to ensure universal access to an adequate supply of safe blood for transfusions.
While Latin America and the Caribbean has made significant advances to improve the safety and availability of blood for transfusions, with donations rising to 10.5 million units in 2017 – an increase of 13% since 2015, the percentage of voluntary donations remains largely unchanged.
The theme of this year’s World Blood Donor Day (June 14) is “Safe blood for all” of which voluntary donation is a vital part. The theme draws attention to the importance of timely supplies of safe and quality-assured blood and blood components as an integral part of universal health and a key component of effective health systems.
“The Region of the Americas has made huge efforts to increase voluntary blood donations in recent years but there are still significant disparities from country to country,” said Dr. Analía Porrás, Unit Chief of Medicines and Health Technologies at PAHO. “Regular, unpaid blood donation is a vital part of ensuring the safety and availability of blood components, so it is important that all countries do more to move towards this model,” she added.
World Blood Donor Day is celebrated all over the world each year on 14 June. The event serves to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood components and to thank blood donors for their life-saving gift of blood.
A blood service that gives patients timely access to sufficient, safe blood and blood components is a key element of universal health. In order to achieve this, countries must ensure the implementation of a nationally coordinated blood transfusion service based on voluntary non-remunerated blood donations.
Blood and blood components are vital for both planned treatments and urgent interventions and save millions of lives each year. They are particularly essential in the management of women suffering from bleeding associated with pregnancy and childbirth; children suffering from severe anemia due to malaria; patients with blood disorders; victims of trauma and emergencies; as well as patients undergoing medical and surgical procedures.