World Blood Donor Day: safe blood needed to save mothers

KARACHI: The World Blood Donor Day is being observed on June 14, 2014 with renewed commitment. The focus for this years World Blood Donor Day campaign is Safe blood for saving mothers.
The campaign will increase awareness about why timely access to safe blood and blood products is essential for all countries as part of a comprehensive approach to prevent maternal deaths. WHO encourages all countries and national and international partners working on blood transfusion and maternal health to develop an activity plan to highlight the need for timely access to safe blood and blood products in the prevention of maternal deaths.
According to WHO, transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life, and can support complex medical and surgical procedures. It also has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and perinatal care.
However, in many countries, there is an inadequate supply of safe blood, and blood services face the challenge of making sufficient blood available while also ensuring its quality and safety. There is a marked difference in the level of access to safe blood between high- and low-income countries. 
An adequate supply of safe blood can only be assured through regular donations by voluntary unpaid blood donors. These donors are the safest group of donors as the prevalence of bloodborne infections is lowest among this group. WHOs goal is for all countries to obtain all their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors by 2020.
WHO recommends that every country should put in place policies, systems and structures to ensure the safety, quality, accessibility and timely availability of blood and blood products to meet the needs of all patients who require transfusion. Policies should be supported by appropriate legislation to promote uniform implementation of standards and consistency in the quality and safety of blood and blood products. All activities related to blood collection, testing, processing, storage and distribution should be coordinated at the national level through effective organization and management. 
The first World Blood Donor Day was observed in 2004, which was followed by its designation as an annual global event by the Fifty-eighth World Health Assembly in 2005. World Blood Donor Day is now celebrated each year throughout the world on 14 June to raise awareness of the importance of blood donation and to recognize the contribution of voluntary unpaid blood donors in saving lives and improving health.
World Blood Donor Day has a further purpose to create wider awareness throughout the world about the need for availability and appropriate use of safe blood and blood products, and the need for many more people to make a commitment to regular voluntary unpaid blood donation. 
The date of 14 June is the birthday of Karl Landsteiner (18681943), an Austrian biologist and physician, considered to be the founder of modern blood transfusion. Landsteiner discovered the ABO blood groups in 1901, developed the modern system of classification of blood groups, and identified, in 1937, together with Alexander S. Wiener, the Rhesus factor, thus enabling physicians to transfuse blood without endangering a patient’s life.

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