Blood donation - a global view

 

Voluntary blood donor organizations have been set up in over 50 countries. These organizations, which are managed by blood donors themselves, play an important role in blood donor recruitment and retention through peer education and promotion.

 

Most countries still lack a nationally coordinated Blood Transfusion Service. Despite some recent improvements in this important area, fewer than 30% of countries have a well-organized service in place

The chance of receiving a safe transfusion if you need one varies enormously from one country to another, depending largely on whether there is a good, safe blood donor programme in place. Some 60% of the global blood supply goes to 18% of the world's population. There is a serious disparity between countries when it comes to both the availability and safety of blood.

People in developing countries continue to face the greatest risks from unsafe blood and blood products. In general, countries with higher per capita incomes have higher donation rates, more efficient blood collection systems, more available blood and more voluntary, unpaid donors, who have been shown to be the safest donors.

In wealthy countries, it is estimated that one out of every 10 people entering a hospital needs blood. That person may be a trauma victim - due to an accident or burns - they may need heart surgery or an organ transplant, or they may be receiving treatment with blood products for leukaemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell anaemia.

With an ageing population, advances in medical treatments and procedures requiring blood transfusions the demand for blood continues to increase in wealthy countries. According to national statistics, 4.5 million Americans would die each year without blood transfusions. The national blood service of England and Wales says that in 2004 blood donors saved or improved approximately one million lives.

In low income countries, women and children are the groups with the greatest need for blood. More than half a million women die every year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth worldwide - 99% of them in developing countries. Haemorrhage, accounting for 25% of complications, is the most common cause of maternal death. Up to 70% of all blood transfusions in Africa are given to children with severe anaemia due to malaria, which accounts for about one in five of all childhood deaths in Africa.

 

Source WHO