Have a fabulous 2012


Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Donate Blood

World's largest blood drop made in
Pyeongchan, South Korea
According to World Health Organization (WHO), voluntary and non-remunerated blood donors are the lifeline of a community and the safest source of blood and blood products for patients (p.2). To celebrate the gift by such donors World Blood Donars Day has been established. Hence June 14 (the birth of Karl Landsteiner, the Nobel Prize winner who discovered the ABO blood group system) each year is celebrated to honor the gift by donars for saving human life.

When I was still in middle school (in 1980s), Fatimd Foundation (an NGO) in Pakistan, vibrantly worked in blood collection and blood related field. They used to sponsor many programs on TV when there was not the madness of hundreds of channels. In 1990s, they faded somehow in their public/media campaigns and now, I have no idea where do they stand in this noble yet forgotten cause?

My 2011 trip to Pakistan made me see parents and old people begging for blood donations when Dengue virus assault was on the rise in Lahore and elsewhere in Pakistan. This reminds me of where we stand in terms of ‘blood donations’ and blood banks in Pakistan? Simply put: blame the government since health-care and education are the last things in their mind and why wouldn’t it be when the masses have no clue about the importance of education or cleanliness which may cut down the health problems to half if people know the basics. Nonetheless, we are a country that considers military power, arms and ammunition and atomic bomb and nuclear weapons as their asset and not its people.

Whart needs to be done?
One thing must be awareness.
Two: A partnership between the civil society, local, national and international governments is another important aspect.
Three: National campaigns with a goal in which public can trust and confide.
Four: Demand of blood is increasing at a fast pace particularly in developing countries but the supply of quality blood is very sloppy. This has to change by bringing blood donations campaigns to educational institutes at the national level. I have complete faith that the youth of Pakistan will realize our goal of self-sufficiency in blood donations in these times and age.

Possible Fears
WHO in its report said that transfusion of unsafe blood puts lives at risk because HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, Chagas’ disease, malaria and other infections can be transmitted to the recipients through transfusion. Blood which tests positive for any of these infections cannot be transfused and is discarded, resulting in additional financial costs. These issues are of particular concern in countries facing blood shortages.

* Globally, up to 4 million people have been infected with HIV by the transfusion of unsafe blood
* The prevalence of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis in donated blood is still unacceptably high in many developing countries; the prevalence of Chagas’ disease in donated blood is a major problem in some South and Central American countries
* Many countries lack policies, procedures or resources for ensuring the safety of blood, including South Asia which are facing the HIV/AIDS pandemic
* As some infections, such as HIV, cannot be detected in a person’s blood during the "window period", laboratory testing of donated blood – no matter how sophisticated – is,alone, not enough to ensure a safe blood supply. The safest blood comes from the safest blood donors.

We must understand that only about 40 per cent of the blood collected each year is donated in developing countries, which are home to over 80 per cent of the world’s population and the goal to collect the amount need is still far-fetched. The average number of blood donations per 1,000 population is 12 times higher in high-income countries than in low-income countries.

According to the WHO report, an overwhelming 99 per cent of the 500,000 women who die each year during pregnancy and childbirth live in developing countries, with hemorrhage – which invariably requires blood transfusion – the most common cause of maternal deaths.

To overcome blood shortage, both public and private organizations must work hand in hand. Medical staff and hospitals can also be the key drivers to convince people to donate blood.

Nationals campaigns must be rigorous and collaboration with media can play a very important role. Schools, colleges and universities are a good source to convey message of blood donation. I don’t think that we need earthquakes and floods to awake the spirit of nationalism in Pakistan. It is too heavy a price to show nationalism and patriotism. Youth of Pakistan can be brought in the sphere of working for Pakistan. Nevertheless commitment is a necessary tool and must NOT let go.

At a national level blood service delivery must be an integral part of the health strategy of any country. I fail to understand why people are begging for blood at the last level and how come our hospitals and health services have been failing to help people in need of blood.

WHO Report and WHO Intl.