On World Blood Donor Day, PAHO calls for more people to become volunteer donors

Illustration of woman donating blood

June 13, 2024 (PAHO/WHO)- On the occasion of World Blood Donor Day, celebrated every June 14, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is encouraging more people to volunteer to donate blood to help increase the availability of essential blood supplies in the Region.

Voluntary, unpaid blood donation is the foundation of a safe and sufficient blood supply. It also plays a crucial role in supporting patients with a wide range of chronic health problems, such as hemophilia and immune deficiencies. "According to the latest available data for 34 countries in the Region, 8.2 million units of blood were donated in 2020, 48% of them from voluntary donors," PAHO Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa said.

However, in many countries, demand exceeds supply, and blood services face the challenge of ensuring sufficient availability while, at the same time, guaranteeing the quality and safety of blood products. While overall figures for the Region show a significant increase in donations and in the availability and safety of blood, the rate of blood donation per 1,000 people in low- and middle-income countries remains between 50 and 70 percent below that of higher-income countries.

For Dr. Barbosa, this highlights the need for sustainable, regulated blood programs to ensure the availability of sufficient quantities of safe blood to meet patient needs.

Blood transfusions and blood products help patients live longer and ensure a better quality of life. They also support complex medical and surgical procedures, making them indispensable in maternal and child health care services, as well as in disaster scenarios. "Blood donation helps to strengthen social and community bonds. And the promotion of voluntary donation and coordination among blood service networks helps to improve and save the lives of millions of people,” Dr. Barbosa added. 

To mark the 20th Anniversary of World Blood Donor Day, PAHO together with the Ministry of Health of Peru have organized a series of activities. Peru has been designated as the 2024 host country for the celebration, with the official ceremony to be held tomorrow, June 14.

The theme of the day this year is "20 Years Celebrating Generosity: Thank You, Blood Donors!", which aims to recognize and thank the millions of voluntary blood donors who have contributed to improving the health and well-being of millions of people around the world.

The 20th Anniversary of World Blood Donor Day marks a momentous occasion to reflect on achievements, address challenges and envision a future in which there will be universal access to safe blood transfusions for patients and donors.

Find out more about the events to commemorate World Blood Donor Day 2024: