World Blood Donors Day

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Air Vice Marshal (r) Aftab Hussain HI(M), Knight (Geneva)

Like other parts of the globe, World Blood Donor Day was marked on Monday to raise awareness about the problem and thank donors worldwide.

World Blood Donor Day falls on the birthday of Karl Landsteiner (June 14, 1868) who created the ABO blood group system, which is still being used to ensure safety of blood transfusion.

The slogan, “Give Blood and keep the World Beating”, draws attention to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gift of blood and to lay emphasis on the dire need of regular blood donations to ensure quality, safety and availability of blood and blood products for patients in need.

The safe blood is constantly on high demand, especially in developing countries like Pakistan. The properly screened greatly helps the transfusion of blood and blood products to save millions of lives every year.

It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures.

It also has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and child care and during the emergency response to man-made and natural disasters.

In particular, safe blood is extremely essential for the survivability of thalassemia, hemophilic, cancer and even the corona-affected people.

According to the World Health Organization, about 108 million blood donations are collected globally every year.

Nearly 50 per cent of these blood donations are collected in high-income countries, home to less than 20 per cent of the world’s population. The average blood donation rate is more than 9 times greater in high-income countries than in low-income countries.

Pakistan is one of the developing countries where access to safe blood is a nightmare. Most of the blood collected in Pakistan is from either family donors or paid-donors. There are very few voluntary donors tat too in some big cities.

In smaller towns and cities where the bulk of our population lives, are invariably deprived of safe blood. Pakistan on the average requires 25-30 lakhs of blood units every year.

If only 1-3 % of the population starts to donate their blood voluntarily and regularly, the requirement of blood and blood products can easily be met.

The major issues pertaining to safe blood in Pakistan broadly include unscreened blood leading to transfusion of some fatal diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis B&C , Syphilis and Malaria etc.,

Untrained medical staff, non-standard blood transfusion equipment and use of whole-blood rather than utilizing components of the blood as deemed appropriate.

Regular blood donation reduces the risk of heart attack and cancer by about 80%. It greatly helps in weight reduction.

Above-all, blood donation gives an unexplainable spiritual pleasure in saving the lives of humanity.

After donation, the plasma is formed within 24hours, the healthier red cells are made within 3-4 weeks and the iron is produced within 4-6 weeks. The male and female are ready to donate again within 3 and 4 months respectively.

Pakistan had initialed ‘Safe Blood Transfusion Programmed (SBTP)’ in 2010 with the aid of German Govt. Under this programme, Blood Banks were to be established at Central and Regional level to have a safe and integrated system of Blood Transfusion.

However; after ten years of efforts, only 15% of the desired objective has been attained so far. The German aid has been completed.

It is now the duty of the Govt. and all stakeholders to let this programme continue so as to achieve the desired number blood units with safety and quality.

The writer is a Director at Sundas Foundation, Lahore.

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