The lockdown we’re gradually coming out of has put a strain on blood banks so much so that Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan sent out an SOS to all the State health ministers, calling for mobile blood collection units to be sent out. He asked all the Chief Ministers to maintain records of current stock by blood group, and to appeal for more citizens to become donors.
Since it’s not possible to organise blood donation camps, there’s serious shortage of blood right now, not just for COVID-19 patients with co-morbidities but also for those suffering from thalassemia, Sickle Cell Anaemia and haemophilia, conditions where regular blood transfusion is the difference between life and immediate death. With the Centre having declared blood services as essential services, don’t let World Blood Donor Day 2020 go by this June 14. Consider it an opportunity to become a life-saver.
Access to safe blood is a privilege in India. Low-income families struggle during health emergencies because of the scarcity of donations for blood and testing. The World Health Assembly designated June 14 as a special day to motivate more people to come forward voluntarily as donors. Events in gratitude of voluntary (and unpaid) donors and awareness of this act of kindness are held across the world, with WHO taking on official duties. However, this year, as with all events, the global campaign has gone virtual.
Apt theme for World Blood Donor Day 2020
The theme for World Blood Donor Day 2020 couldn’t be more apt. “Safe blood saves lives” is the theme. The slogan running with the theme is “Give blood and make the world a healthier place”. It’s a clarion call for us to be life-savers by becoming regular blood donors for the good health of the community at large. Statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that regular donation by voluntary blood donors is the only way to ensure the supply of safe blood.
The emphasis on safe blood is timely since we are still in the grip of the spread of coronavirus. Dr. Harsh Vardhan wants added precautions to prevent any viral infections at Blood Donation Centres. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has issued a detailed advisory for voluntary blood donation during COVID-19.
According to the advisory, social distancing measures are to be strictly followed at licensed blood donation centres. Donors having a travel history, a contact history or are confirmed to have the novel coronavirus, won’t be allowed to give blood or blood components. Donors who experience COVID-19 symptoms within 2 weeks post donation must report to the blood centre’s Medical Officer. The officer will discard the blood and blood components collected from such persons.
Call for action
World Blood Donor Day 2020 is a call for action. Health authorities at the national level, blood banks and the governments are called forth to put systems in place for more voluntary, unpaid donors, and to oversee the entire blood transfusion chain for safety.
International organisations, including the World Health Organisation, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Blood Donor Organisations and the International Society of Blood Transfusion, among others, continue to work in close collaboration to provide guidance and support to their membership in this endeavour.
Pledge to donate blood regularly and become a life-saver on World Blood Donor Day 2020. Not only will you save other lives, you will also shield yourself from illnesses. Among the many health benefits for the donor are reduced risk of developing haemochromatosis (due to excess absorption of iron), lower risk of cancer, and good health from the production of new blood cells.