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Latin America and Caribbean urged to strengthen blood donation measures

Published:Wednesday | June 12, 2019 | 2:19 PM
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WASHINGTON, CMC – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Wednesday called for Latin America and Caribbean countries to strengthen their voluntary, unpaid blood donation systems, noting it is the best way to ensure universal access to an adequate supply of safe blood for transfusions.

In a statement ahead of World Blood Donor Day on Friday, the PAHO noted that in the region, voluntary donation accounts for less than half of all blood supplies.

“While Latin America and the Caribbean has made significant advances to improve the safety and availability of blood for transfusions, with donations rising to 10.5 million units in 2017, an increase of 13 per cent since 2015, the percentage of voluntary donations remains largely unchanged,” it said.

The theme of this year’s World Blood Donor Day is “Safe blood for all” of which voluntary donation is a vital part.

PAHO said that the theme draws attention to the importance of timely supplies of safe and quality-assured blood and blood components as an integral part of universal health and a key component of effective health systems.

“The region of the Americas has made huge efforts to increase voluntary blood donations in recent years but there are still significant disparities from country to country,” said Dr Analía Porrás, Unit Chief of Medicines and Health Technologies at PAHO.

“Regular, unpaid blood donation is a vital part of ensuring the safety and availability of blood components, so it is important that all countries do more to move towards this model,” she added.

PAHO said that as of 2017, voluntary blood donation accounted for five million units or 46.5 per cent of blood for transfusions in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“This is a less than one per cent increase from 2015, and far below the 100 per cent goal recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure a sufficient and safe blood supply for transfusions. Currently, the majority of blood donation comes from so-called required replacement donation”, followed by autologous donation and paid donation.”

The PAHO/WHO say they were recommending that countries dedicate the necessary resources and infrastructure to develop and sustain national integrated services for blood donation; ensure the quality and safety of blood and blood components in their systems; strengthen distribution networks so that blood and blood components are available when and where they are needed; and provide high-quality care to blood donors, among other measures.

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