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Caribbean urged to strengthen measures to push up blood donations

Thursday, June 13, 2019

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WASHINGTON, DC, USA (CMC – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) yesterday called on Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) 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, PAHO noted that in the LAC, 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.”

PAHO said the percentage of voluntary donations also varies significantly in the region from country to country, accounting for 90 per cent of donations in 10 countries, including Aruba, Bermuda, Colombia, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Guyana, Nicaragua, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Suriname.

It said voluntary blood donation accounts for 50-90 per cent of donations in five countries, and less than 50 per cent of donations in 22 countries.

“Access to safe, quality blood and blood components is a vital element of universal health, particularly in the areas of emergency medicine, maternal and perinatal health and surgery,” said Mauricio Beltran Duran, regional advisor for blood and transplant services at PAHO.

“We know that the availability of these components is indispensable to improve health outcomes and save lives, so it is critical to achieve the 100 per cent WHO goal to ensure that no one gets left behind.”


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