WHO global health days

Key messages - World Blood Donor Day 2013

A single unit of donated blood can save up to three lives.

Every year 107 million blood donations are collected worldwide. Approximately half of these are collected in high-income countries, home to only 15% of the world’s population.

Many patients requiring transfusion, particularly in developing countries, do not have timely access to safe blood.

Blood collection from voluntary non-remunerated blood donors is the cornerstone of a safe and sufficient blood supply. Regular voluntary blood donors are the safest source of blood, as there are fewer bloodborne infections among these donors than among people who donate for family members in emergencies or who give blood for payment.

In low- and middle-income countries, the greatest use of donated blood is for pregnancy-related complications and severe childhood anaemia.

In high-income countries, transfusion is most commonly used for supportive care in heart surgery, transplant surgery, massive trauma and cancer therapy.

Providing safe and adequate blood through well-organized, national blood systems should be an integral part of every country’s national health-care policy.

WHO’s goal is for all countries to obtain all their blood supplies from 100% voluntary unpaid donors by 2020.

WHO provides policy guidance and technical assistance to support countries to ensure that safe blood and blood products are available and used appropriately for all people who need them.

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