The National, Monday 17th June 2013
By ELIZABETH MIAE
PAPUA New Guinea continues to have inadequate blood supply to meet patient demands, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
There are 35 blood banks in the country and according to WHO standards, countries need to produce about 150,000 units of blood per annum to adequately supply the blood demand.
However, the Department of Health’s National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) collects only 30,000 units of blood which amounts to only 20% of the demand.
Out of the 30, 000 units collected, 55% are from volunteers while the other 45% are family replacement donors.
WHO’s goal for all countries is to obtain all their blood supplies from 100% voluntarily unpaid donors by 2020.
“WHO urges the government to strengthen national blood systems and take concrete steps to attain self-sufficiency in safe blood and blood products based on 100% voluntary unpaid blood donation,” WHO country representative Dr William Adu-Krow said at the10th anniversary of the World Blood Donor Day in Port Moresby last Friday.
“I encourage the country to support national blood systems in building stable bases of voluntary, unpaid donors who regularly give blood,” he said.
Adu-Krow said that blood donation through a well-organised national blood system should be an integral part of every country’s national health care policy because without it, the infrastructure and human and financial resource needed to ensure the availability of sufficient supplies of safe blood and blood products were unlikely to be provided.
He said blood transfusions and blood products helped save millions of lives every year and a single unit of donated blood could save up to three lives.
He added that transfusions could help patients suffering from life threatening conditions live a longer and higher quality of life and more importantly has a role in the care of mothers and young children.
This year’s theme for World Blood Donor day was “Celebrating the Gift of Blood: Blood Donation, a Gift of Life”.
Organisers from the NBTS and WHO used it as an opportunity to thank donors who voluntarily gave blood to save lives as well as reflect on PNG’s status.
According to WHO, globally 62 countries obtain all their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors.
However, 40 countries collect less than 25% of their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid blood donors.
A significant proportion of the blood supply in those countries remained dependent on family replacement and paid blood donors.
In the Western Pacific, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cook Islands, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Niue, South Korea, Singapore, Tokelau and Tuvalu have all achieved 100% voluntary unpaid blood donation.