SANBS reiterates need for more blood donors

South Africa is one of 65 countries which depends on voluntary, unpaid blood donations.

Picture: SANBS

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) says while it continues to raise awareness through its education programmes, there is still an urgent need for more blood donors to come forward.

In light of World Blood Donor Day, the organisation has encouraged people to donate blood at some of its donor stations, which will be open until late.

Most of our donor centres are open till 7:00pm #WorldDonorDay, give yours a call!

South Africa is one of 65 countries which depends on voluntary, unpaid blood donations.

Spokesperson Vanessa Raju says, "We often find ourselves, as much as we go out on education drives to recruit more donors, we still never have enough people who are consistently donating."

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also called for countries to establish more blood services based on full voluntary non-remunerated blood donations, to ensure a reliable supply of safe blood for patients whose lives depend on it.

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan said, "Voluntary, unpaid blood donation is the act of giving life - the greatest gift any person can give or receive."

About 108 million blood donations are collected globally every year. Nearly 50 percent of these blood donations are collected in high-income countries, home to less than 20 percent of the world's population. The average blood donation rate is more than nine times greater in high-income countries than in low-income countries.

However, in many countries, demand exceeds supply, and blood services face the challenge of making sufficient blood available, while also ensuring its quality and safety. An adequate supply can only be assured through regular donations by voluntary, unpaid blood donors.

WHO says regular voluntary unpaid blood donors are the foundation of a safe blood supply because they are associated with low levels of infection that can be transmitted by transfusions, including HIV and hepatitis viruses.

Around the world, 25 countries are unable to screen all donated blood for one or more of these infections due to irregular supply of test kits, staff shortages, poor quality test kits, or lack of basic quality in laboratories.

Listen: Why you should donate blood