World Blood Donor Day aims at increasing the number of donors

by Otávio Clark | Jun 15, 2016

Blood connects us all. This is the theme of World Blood Donor Day this year, celebrated by the World Health Organization (WHO) on June 14 to encourage blood donation globally. According to WHO, blood donations must increase rapidly in more than half the world's countries to ensure a reliable supply of safe blood for patients whose lives depend on it.

About 108 million units of blood are donated every year around the world. Approximately 50% of blood is collected in developed countries, home to less than 20% of the global population. Developing countries face the daily challenge of demand exceeding the blood supply. The situation becomes even more serious when considering that many of these countries live conflicts and disease outbreaks that make blood donation even more essential.

In addition, the safety of the donated blood is a concern. In many countries, blood collection services cannot guarantee the quality of blood. Worldwide, 25 countries are unable to screen all blood donated to detect one or more infection (including hepatitis and HIV) due to irregular supply of test kits, lack of personnel, poor quality test kits or lack of basic quality in laboratories.

In Brazil, only 1.8% of the 200 million citizens are donors, according to UN data. The Ministry of Health’s goal is to increase this rate to around 2.2-2.3% over the next five years.

Saving lives

The blood collected through donations can be used "whole" or "in parts"  – separated into its components – to treat a wide range of diseases. One unit of blood can be used to benefit many patients.

Transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives each year, including in emergency situations. It can also help patients suffering from life-threatening diseases to live longer and with higher quality of life and supports complex medical and surgical procedures.

In Brazil, people with a minimum weight of 50 kilograms, between 18 and 69 years, who have not drunk alcohol in the 12 hours prior to donation, and are not fasting can donate blood. For the safety of the people who will receive the blood, the Ministry of Health prevents donation by people who were diagnosed with hepatitis after the age of 11 years; those are exposed to blood-borne diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis, syphilis and Chagas disease; drug users; those have had sexual intercourse without condoms; and pregnant or nursing women.

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