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Islamabad

June 14, 2018

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Dire need of motivation for blood donation in Pakistan

Rawalpindi : It is unfortunate that in Pakistan, donation rates are less than one per cent; whereas if one per cent of a country’s population donates blood, it would be sufficient for country’s needs. At the existing level, shortage amounts to as much as 40 per cent.

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Over 90 per cent of total blood transfused in Pakistan is donated by the friends and relatives of patients. Around 10-20 per cent of blood supply is still donated by professional donors.

Pakistan’s annual blood transfusion requirement is approximately 1.5 million bags, with the 40 per cent of the demand being met by the public sector. Blood transfusion services in Pakistan are mostly hospital-based. There are nearly 150 public and 450 private blood banks in the country and most of these are unregistered and unregulated due to which business of substandard and unscreened blood has assumed an alarming proportion.

Head of Community Medicine at CMH Lahore Medical College Professor Dr. Muhammad Ashraf Chaudhry expressed this while talking to ‘The News’ in connection with World Blood Donor Day which is observed around the globe on June 14 every year.

The theme of this year’s campaign is blood donation as an action of solidarity. It highlights the fundamental human values of altruism, respect, empathy and kindness which underline and sustain voluntary unpaid blood donation systems. The slogan is, “Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life”, to draw attention to the roles that voluntary donation systems play in encouraging people to care for one another and generate social ties and a united community.

Dr. Ashraf said in Pakistan, the major factors responsible for low blood collection include lack of education and awareness about the need of safe blood in the community and importance of voluntary unpaid blood transfusion and high prevalence of Hepatitis B, C, HIV/AIDS and anaemia and lack of blood donor requirement and retention strategy.

He said the unavailability of blood has leads to a number of deaths and many patients suffer from ill-health. The transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year. It can help improve life expectancy and the quality of lives of patients suffering from life-threatening conditions, such as thalassemia, haemophilia, anaemia, cancer, kidney failure, dialysis, bleeding after child birth, cardiac bypass surgery and supports complex medical and surgical procedures, he said.

He added that proper blood storage and transportation facilities are not available in many of the country’s public and private sector hospitals, leading to the wastage of a significant proportion of the collected blood.

Pakistan has a high burden of thalassemia and according to estimates, 5000 children are born with thalassemia each year and 70,000 patients are registered with the disease. Most services for these patients are provided by private blood transfusion services by non-governmental organizations, said Dr. Ashraf.

He said media should be used to raise awareness about voluntary blood donation and misconceptions about blood donation must be removed. “Any person between the age of 17 and 65 years and weighing 50kg or more can donate blood at least three times a year. However, donor should not be suffering from some serious disease like hepatitis B, C and HIV/AIDS and also should not be an addict.”

He said after donating blood, you replace the fluid in hours and the red blood cells within four weeks. It takes eight weeks to restore the iron lost after donating. There are 10 units of blood in the body of average adult. For a whole blood donation, one pint is collected. You should drink plenty of fluids during the first few hours following the donation, said Dr. Ashraf.

He said hospital transfusion committee should be established in every hospital in order to decide the requirement for blood transfusion. According to one estimate, 75 per cent of hospitals in Pakistan do not have transfusion committees, due to which rate of unnecessary and unscreened blood transfusion is very high in the country, which is resulting in high incidence of viral hepatitis and HIV infections, he said.

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