Speakers at a seminar in Karachi to commemorate World Blood Donor Day urged the promotion of safe blood through donation by 100% voluntary, non-remunerated donors in licensed blood banks. The seminar was organized by the Pakistan Press Foundation. Those attending were addressed by representatives from WHO, the Global Fund Project for safe blood, Jinnah Hospital and Pakistan Red Crescent Blood Bank. The speakers noted the urgent need for stringent standards and regulations at all places where blood was collected in order to ensure blood safety. Training for staff and the upgrading of standards and technologies was vital.

At a second seminar on World Blood Donor Day held at the Aga Khan University, delegates were told that the 25% of donors who are voluntary have the lowest incidence of Hepatitis B and C, whereas commercial donors have the highest incidence. They were further urged to support the development and implementation of a national blood transfusion policy in order to ensure a safe and adequate supply of blood in the country.

Another event, jointly organized by the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority and the Hussaini Blood Bank on World Blood Donor Day, and attended by doctors and representatives of nongovernmental organizations working in health and social workers, reiterated the need for a national policy, with the Sindh Health Minister warning that unregistered blood banks operating throughout the province would be dealt with severely.

Dr Syed Abdul Mujeeb of the Jinnah Hospital urged the government to take emergency measures to ensure safe transfusion of blood in the province. Currently blood is needed to treat mothers suffering from haemorrhage at childbirth, many of whom die. In addition, the 60 000 to 70 000 thalassaemic children in the country require two pints of blood each per month. Pakistan is currently experiencing an annual shortfall of 40% of its blood needs.

Syed Abdul Mujeeb