Blood transfusion safety

Self-sufficiency in blood and blood products based on voluntary non-remunerated blood and plasma donations

Achieving self-sufficiency based on voluntary non-remunerated blood donation, and achieving security of supply are important national goals to prevent blood shortages and meet the transfusion requirements of the patient population. The national authorities should therefore take all the 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.

Estimation of blood requirements

Access to sufficient supplies of safe blood and blood products provided within a national blood system is a vital component in achieving universal health coverage. To ensure timely and equitable access to safe blood transfusion, the providers of blood for transfusion need to know how much blood is required for their populations and where and when it is needed so that blood is neither under- or over-supplied. Health planners and funders need to establish both the current and future requirement of blood and blood products so that the transfusion requirements for the health service delivery can be consistently met and an appropriate level of funding to support the blood programme is maintained. A realistic assessment of blood requirements is fundamental to effective planning for the rational, fair, and effective distribution of blood and blood components within a blood system.

There are major differences in the estimation of blood requirements in countries which currently have an adequate blood supply compared to those which do not. The current methods for estimating national blood requirements, when applied to developing countries, are either not sensitive to reflect the dynamic nature of blood needs in the health care system, or are difficult to apply due to the lack of required data. The WHO Blood Transfusion Safety team convened an experts’ consultation to review what is currently known on the topic, to share their experiences in different settings and to decide the direction of future activity.

Selected published reports, articles and relevant information

WHA63.12. Availability, safety and quality of blood products: resolution
WHA58.13. Blood safety: proposal to establish World Blood Donor Day. 16-25 May 2005