Message of the Regional Director of WHO in the African Region, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, on the occasion of World Blood Donor Day, 14 June 2018

Every year on 14 June, the African Region joins the global community to celebrate World Blood Donor Day. This year’s theme is focuses on blood donation as an act of solidarity: “Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life”.

This draws attention to the kind gestures of regular and voluntary blood donors for patients in need, and encourages people to care for one another by donating blood. The day is also an opportunity to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood and to motivate people in good health who have never given blood to begin doing so, particularly young people.

Blood transfusion saves lives. It helps patients suffering from life-threatening conditions to live longer, better quality lives, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. It has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and child care and during the emergency responses to disasters, as well as in road traffic accidents and injuries. Safe blood donations play a vital role in providing effective and prompt care for patients in need. This is how ordinary people can be there for someone else - by giving blood and sharing life.

In the African region, although countries have made significant progress to improve the availability and safety of blood, the demand for blood transfusion is increasing. The Region is not meeting its blood needs, and many patients requiring transfusion are dying because of blood shortages.

Adequate supplies of safe blood can only be assured through regular, voluntary, unpaid donations. I urge countries to support voluntary blood donations as a solidarity act for all, and to ensure that national blood services have sustainable funding for blood safety programmes. I encourage Ministries of Health to put active measures in place to strengthen national blood services to enhance universal access to safe blood.

As we commemorate World Blood Donor Day, I thank all voluntary blood donors and encourage them to continue giving this valuable gift regularly to ensure sufficient blood supplies for all patients. I congratulate and express my support to blood donor associations and other non-governmental organizations and all those who are working to make safe blood available in healthcare facilities.

The WHO Regional Office for Africa will continue to support all initiatives aimed at ensuring that safe blood and blood products are available for all. Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life.