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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid