News / Health

WHO Pleads for Voluntary Blood Donors Amid Low Supply

A nurse assists a man donating blood at a blood drive of the German Red Cross in Berlin, June 6, 2011. A nurse assists a man donating blood at a blood drive of the German Red Cross in Berlin, June 6, 2011.
x
A nurse assists a man donating blood at a blood drive of the German Red Cross in Berlin, June 6, 2011.
A nurse assists a man donating blood at a blood drive of the German Red Cross in Berlin, June 6, 2011.
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization [WHO] warns there is a global shortage of safe blood. In advance of World Blood Donor Day, which falls on June 14, WHO is appealing for more voluntary blood donors to boost the supply of this life-saving product.


The World Health Organization says the need for blood and blood products is increasing every year. Unfortunately, it says millions of patients requiring life-saving transfusions do not have timely access to safe blood.  

In low- and middle-income countries, WHO says blood transfusion is usually given to mothers suffering complications from pregnancy and childbirth. It also is given for the treatment of severe childhood anemia.  

In high-income countries, WHO says transfusion is commonly used for supportive care in heart surgery, transplant surgery, trauma and cancer therapy.  

WHO says the need for blood is growing globally-in both developed and developing countries. Neelam Dhingra, coordinator for Blood Transfusion Safety at WHO, said volunteer and unpaid blood donors are the cornerstone for a safe, sufficient supply in any country.

“The reason lies behind what actually motivates people to give blood. Volunteers come to give blood of their free will without any coercion, without any incentive - financial incentive, which might influence their decision or disclosure of a history of why they are donating blood," said Dhingra. "Their blood is safer because they give a true history and they are dedicated to the cause of donations. It has been seen that systems, which are based on replacement donations and paid donors, are not sustainable and they do not provide a safe and adequate blood supply for all the patients."  

Currently, WHO reports 60 countries collect 100 percent of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors, and 35 are high-income countries. However, it says 73 countries still collect more than 50 percent of their blood supply from replacement or paid donors.

WHO Blood Transfusion Safety Officer, Yetmgeta Abdella, said the availability of blood and blood products is a huge problem in developing countries, in Africa and elsewhere. He said lack of a safe blood supply in hospitals is a major contributor to child diseases and death.

“So, addressing the safety of blood that is being collected and transfused in low-income countries is one aspect of the problem. The other aspect is availability-providing access to people who actually need the service. The patients that are actually requiring this life-saving transfusion are not getting it in most parts of the developing world,” said Abdella.

WHO recommends that all blood donations be screened for infection prior to use. It says screening should be mandatory for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and syphilis.  

It says hospitals should only give blood transfusions when needed. WHO says unnecessary transfusions and unsafe transfusion practices risk creating adverse reactions in some patients. It notes unnecessary transfusions also reduce the availability of blood products for patients in need.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs