The Director of the WHO regional office for Africa. Dr Luis Gomes Sambo, took advantage of the celebration of World Blood Donor Day on 14 June to call on more people in African countries to donate blood on a voluntary basis. He noted that while more donors were always needed, screening donated blood has to be a priority for governments. The theme of Blood Donor Day 2006 was "Commitment to ensure universal access to safe blood".
He called on all those who were "healthy and eligible" to donate blood to ensure universal access to safe blood and said the WHO regional office for Africa would support countries in building up reliable and effective blood transfusion services based on voluntary unpaid donations.
It is an unfortunate fact that in some countries, not all donated blood is screened. With the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, blood safety is a major concern, as the virus can be transmitted through contaminated blood. Other transfusion-transmissible diseases, such as hepatitis B and C and syphilis can occur if donations of blood are not adequately screened.
Donated blood from voluntary, unremunerated donors has been proven to be the safest, but in only 12 African countries is the blood currently entirely from voluntary unpaid donors. Even then, screening prior to transfusion is essential.