World Blood Donor Day is observed on June 14 every year to encourage the concept of voluntary blood donation and at a time when voluntary blood banks have been playing a stellar role, the occasion would also provide an opportunity for raising the awareness levels about blood donation. The overwhelming majority of the world’s population does not have access to safe blood. Over 80 million units of blood are donated every year, but only 38% are collected in developing countries where 82% of the global population lives.
Established by the World Health Assembly, this day marks the birthday of Karl Land Steiner, a Nobel laureate who discovered the ABO blood group system and give the precious gift of life to millions of people.
The day has been selected as World Blood Donor Day by three major organizations. joined by the WHO,
working for voluntary non-remunerated blood donation,
• The International Federation of Red Cross
• Red Crescent Societies
• The International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations
• The International Society of Blood Transfusion
Millions of people around the world owe their lives to individuals they often never meet – people who donate their blood to help others. But millions more still can’t get safe blood when they need it. There is broad international support to raise awareness of the need for safe blood around the world and encourage eligible individuals to donate it regularly for its ready availability for all those, who need it when required.
The theme for 2009 ‘Towards 100 per cent Voluntary, Non-remunerated Blood Donation’ focuses the use of innovative approaches to community participation to increase voluntary blood donation, maintenance of a stable pool of regular voluntary donors and establishing or expanding blood component programmes based on 100 per cent voluntary non-remunerated donation to achieve self-sufficiency.
In addition, many countries remain dependent on donation by the families or friends of patients, who require blood, and in some countries, blood donors still receive payment. Experts and Hematologists said the day holds extreme relevance to Pakistan where no less than 20 percent of its annually required blood transfusion is met through donations by professionals, mainly comprising intravenous drug users as reported by The Nation.
“The registered need is estimated to be 1.5 million points,” said Dr. Rafiq Khanani of Pakistan Society of Infection Control and Director, Dow Institute of Infectious Diseases.
There was said to be no standard quality for ICT or rapid test kits in the country or any mandatory application of verbal screening.The scenario was attributed to varied inter-linked factors, most prominently being the lack of accountability, non implementation of rules and lack of voluntary blood donation itself. Dr. Ishaq Ali said donations made by relatives can safely be termed as “Forced or Targeted Donation” as people are compelled to go for it.
Dr. Khanani observed that all blood banks must have sufficient quantity of screened blood stored in advance so as to protect recipients against risks of contracting blood borne diseases including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C etc..
Yet, evidence from around the world demonstrates that voluntary unpaid donors are the foundation of a safe blood supply because they are least likely to transmit potentially life-threatening infections, such as HIV and hepatitis viruses, to the recipients of their blood. It is to these unsung heroes that the World Blood Donor Day is dedicated.