Blood transfusion safety

Blood transfusion safety

blood samples

The World Health Organization has been at the forefront of the movement to improve global blood safety since 1975, as mandated by successive World Health Assembly resolutions. The objective of the WHO programme on blood transfusion safety is to ensure universal access to safe, quality and efficacious blood and blood products for transfusion. WHO supports its Member States by providing policy advice and technical guidance, advocacy, mentoring, technical support, technology transfer, capacity-building, twinning, networking and facilitation of bilateral and multilateral funds.

World Blood Donor Day, 14 June

Since 2005, World Blood Donor Day is celebrated on 14 June every year. On this day, we say thank you to all donors around the world, who save lives by donating their blood. However, it is also an occasion to remember that blood supplies are still not safe or sufficient in many countries, and to stress that voluntary, unpaid blood donations are always needed as needs are ever-greater.

Guaranteeing safe blood supplies during Zika outbreaks

February 2016: The Zika virus may present a risk to blood safety. Currently there is limited knowledge of Zika virus and the ways it can be transmitted. Until more is known, precautions should be taken to ensure the supply of blood is safe. Therefore, in response to the recent outbreaks of Zika-related infections, WHO and its regional offices, including in particular PAHO (The Pan American Health Organization) have issued guidelines on the provision and maintenance of safe blood supplies in areas affected by the virus.

Achieving self-sufficiency in safe blood through voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation

In 2010, the World Health Assembly deliberated on challenges related to the availability, safety and quality of blood products and defined self‐sufficiency in the supply of safe blood and blood products based on voluntary non-remunerated donation (VNRD), and the security of that supply, as important national goals to prevent blood shortages and meet the transfusion requirements of the patient population. Resolution WHA63.12 urged Member States "to take all necessary steps to establish, implement and support nationally‐coordinated, efficiently‐managed and sustainable blood and plasma programmes according to the availability of resources, with the aim of achieving self‐sufficiency".

Collaboration between WHO and the Government of Japan to boost safe blood transfusions in South Sudan

Since 2013, South Sudan has been facing a civil war, where safe blood transfusions are clearly a life-saving necessity. However, the supply of blood and blood products were not meeting the demand. One hospital in Juba, the nation’s capital, for example, collected a mere 124 voluntary blood donations in 2014. The resulting shortage was costing lives. In 2015, the World Health Organization and the Government of Japan collaborated to provide support to the South Sudanese Ministry of Health in boosting the nation’s safe blood supply. As a result, according to Dr Abdulmumini Usman, the WHO Representative in South Sudan, safe voluntary blood donations increased tenfold in 2015.