Press Briefing on World Blood Donors Day


Islamabad: On 14 June 2011, World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) will again be celebrated throughout the world to create wider awareness of the need for safe blood for transfusion and the importance of blood donation, and to thank blood donors for their gift of blood. The theme of this year’s WBDD is “More blood. More life”. The theme reinforces the urgent need for more people all over the world to become life-savers by volunteering to donate blood regularly for those in urgent need of it.

World Blood Donor Day was designated as an annual event by the ministers of health of all WHO Member States at the World Health Assembly in 2005. Each year, the number of countries that organize WBDD events increases, with activities now is being held in the majority of countries. High-level commitment and support by government leaders, coupled with media campaigns and community-based activities, unite the world in a celebration of the selfless individuals who donate their blood to save the lives and improve the health of people whom they will never meet.

Each year World Blood Donor Day is jointly coordinated by four founding partners: the World Health Organization, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations and the International Society of Blood Transfusion. Each year, these partner organizations identify a country to host a global WBDD event that provides a focus for an international media campaign to raise awareness of the critically important role of voluntary blood donors in national health care systems. This year Argentina has been selected to host the launch of this day.

Situation in Pakistan

According to the Global Database of Blood Safety 2008, a survey carried out by WHO worldwide; there are 2515 blood banks in Pakistan of which 170 are in public sector, 15 run by NGOs and 2330 by for profit commercial organizations. Unfortunately only 130 such private blood banks are registered with the authorities.

There is practically no system to monitor and run blood banks in the country although Government has initiated regulatory laws authorities still they are not being implemented in its letter and spirit. There is lack of national standards and protocols that are needed to run blood transfusion services in efficient and quality assured manner.

There is no national voluntary blood donation program that could recruit and retain donors. In 2008 45% of the blood banks reported an annual transfusion of 9,60,000 blood bags out of which only 1,20,000 were donated by voluntary unpaid donors while the rest 98% were family or replacement donors donating blood for their sick family members or friends. This practice of family or replacement donors is discouraged by WHO since donors from family members of patients have higher rate of blood borne diseases compared to voluntary unpaid donors.

All public sector blood banks report screening of blood bags for three diseases namely HIV, Hepatitis B and C while WHO recommends that blood should be screened for at-least 05 diseases that should also include screening for Malaria and Syphilis. In the same report the prevalence of Hepatitis B was 3 while that of Hepatitis C – 4.8 and HIV-0.1. This support the fact the replacement donors have a higher prevalence of endemic diseases. Out of all blood banks evaluated only 27% were preparing blood components while the rest were collecting and transfusing whole blood.

Response of Government

Government of Pakistan established blood safety program as part of National HIV and AIDS Control Program till the launch of recent National Blood Transfusion program with the German Government support. The program successfully achieved several milestones such as inclusion of blood transfusion safety in the national Health Policy, development of national blood policy and strategic framework, blood transfusion law and authorities and provincial blood transfusion programs.

Under the new program 13 regional transfusion centres linked to 78 hospital based blood banks would be built and developed under stage 1. These Regional Blood Centres would serve as blood procurement and distribution centres ensuring quality and standards. They would be mobilizing voluntary blood donors, processing, screening, testing and component preparations. On the other hand the Hospital Based Blood Banks would only provide storage, distribution and compatibility testing and transfusing to the recipient.

This new system would provide a central processing system based on a regular blood supply from voluntary unpaid donors and where quality and standards for quality assured blood components could be ensured.

For more information, contact:
Shahzad Alam Khan
Information and Communication Officer
World Health Organization (WHO) Pakistan
Phone: +92 51 925 5075, +92 51 925 5077, +92 51 925 5184, +92 51 925 5185
Fax: +92 51 925 5083
Email: wr@whopak.org

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