Caribbean urged to strengthen measures to push up blood donations

JMMB Group’s Sophia Brown (centre) makes a heroic move to overcome her apprehension of the blood donation process, with the support of colleague, Marisha Hutchinson (left), during the company’s blood drive on April 12, held at its New Kingston head office. Christopher Copeland, technical assistant, phlebotomist from the National Blood Transfusion Service is on hand to prepare Brown for the blood donation process.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) yesterday called on Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to strengthen their voluntary, unpaid blood donation systems, noting it is the best way to ensure universal access to an adequate supply of safe blood for transfusions.

In a statement ahead of World Blood Donor Day on Friday, PAHO noted that in the LAC, voluntary donation accounts for less than half of all blood supplies.

“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 per cent since 2015, the percentage of voluntary donations remains largely unchanged,” it said.

The theme of this year’s World Blood Donor Day is ‘Safe blood for all’ of which voluntary donation is a vital part.

PAHO said that 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.

PAHO said that as of 2017, voluntary blood donation accounted for five million units or 46.5 per cent of blood for transfusions in Latin America and the Caribbean.