World Blood Donor Day

A day to celebrate and thank the voluntary unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood - World Blood Donor Day is recognised by the WHO to raise awareness for safe blood and blood products.

Being one of the countries with the largest requirement and demand for blood and blood products - over 13 million litres annually , India is also the country with the lowest blood donation statistics among the rest of the world. Only less than 1% of the Indian population volunteer for blood donations and around 84% of the donated blood are collected through voluntary non-remunerated donors. Although this number has jumped significantly from 2010 at 53% to 2020 at 83.1%, It is unable to keep up with the countries demand and falls short. The above satistics makes it clear that the general population of India is acceptable and supporting to provide blood donations periodically, and despite a huge population, the demand-supply gap for blood units persists in many healthcare facilities in the country.

A survey conducted recently concluded a high rate of non-compliance on the part of blood banks on the quality and safety of transfusion services. Cases of transmission of infective diseases like AIDS due to substandard medical facilities and practices in blood banks continue to be relatively high. The National Blood Policy outlines the requirement for primary healthcare centres to have 24/7 service for blood transfusion, but over 80% of them lack blood storage facility.With the sector being largely unorganized and fragmented, and lack of communication between hospitals with no real-time centralized data on availability of blood units between them, there have been instances of shortage of blood at hospitals being a major factor in deaths caused by time-critical events such as accidents.

Disparities in access of donors in regions have led to wastage of blood stock in some parts of the country, while at the same time creating a shortage of blood in some other parts. Other hurdles in increasing voluntary blood donation include the fear of pain and weakness after the procedure, and illiteracy.

Changes are implemented by blood donation agencies that often organize workshops to educate people about the benefits of donating blood. With a huge population of youth, blood donation drives are conducted by hospitals and organisations at college campuses. In 2016, the government launched an initiative called E-RaktKosh (Rakt: blood, Kosh: repository), a web-based mechanism that integrates all blood banks in the state into a single network, providing information about blood camps and the availability of blood in hospitals throughout the country.A mobile application for the E-RaktKosh portal was launched in 2020 to improve accessibility.

While the statistics are improving, the necissity to observe this day in India is still necessary, and would like to conclude with a question to the reader: " When was the last time you donated blood ?"

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