WHO stresses safe blood transfusions

  • Just half of the donated blood in the region is separated into its various components

Kathmandu, June 13

Blood banks across the World Health Organisation South-East Asia Region need more blood and region-wide around 18 million units of blood are required annually.

The WHO’s South-East Asia Region comprises 11 member states, including Nepal. A press statement issued by WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh on the eve of the World Blood Donor Day today said an estimated 15.9 million units of blood were collected at present which left a deficit of just over two million units and made the act of donating blood uniquely powerful. “Put simply, it is one of the easiest ways to be there for someone else and to share life,” she said.

Well-coordinated blood and blood product systems can increase the act’s life-saving impact by ensuring that safe, high-quality blood products are available to all people at all times. In recent years member states have made rapid strides towards that goal, with each of them now implementing national policies on blood transfusion and blood safety, including testing all blood for the potential of transfusion-transmitted infections, Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

“That 82 per cent of the blood collected region-wide is from voluntary, non-remunerated donors is the testament to the civic responsibility many people share, and the effectiveness of the blood and blood product systems that have been put in place,” she added.

“Nevertheless, by carrying out a series of key initiatives – including boosting donations – each of the region’s member states can build on their substantial gains and enhance the implementation of WHO’s global strategy for safe blood,” she said.

According to the statement, increased attention to the processing of blood will similarly help make full use of donations. At present just under half of all blood donated in the region is separated into its various components – a process that allows patients to receive only the plasma, platelet, red or white cells they require, leaving the rest to be used as and where needed. This process should be carried out as a matter of priority.

“Importantly, member states should strive to limit the need for blood products in the first place. That can be done by providing high-quality essential services – including antenatal care, disease screening and diagnosis, and health promotion and counselling – at the primary level. Not only will this significantly reduce the need for blood transfusions; it will also fortify health systems more generally,” the statement read.