Eight out of 10 people have no access to safe blood: WHO

Eight out of 10 people in the world do not have access to safe blood, the World Health Organization ( WHO) said Tuesday -- the World Blood Donor Day.

The chances of receiving a safe blood transfusion - or any blood transfusion at all - vary enormously from country to country. Some 60 percent of global blood supplies go to 18 percent of the world's people, leaving 82 percent of the global population inadequately covered, according to the WHO.

"Safe blood is a fundamental need for the health system of any country," Lee Jong-wook, director-general of the Geneva-based UN health agency, said in a statement.

"WHO's 192 member states have recently agreed that World Blood Donor Day will be an officially recognized annual event. This will help raise awareness of the continuing need for safe blood and safe donors," he added.

The WHO and other organizations have advocated clear strategies to increase universal access to safe blood. These are based on promoting regular, voluntary, unpaid donations and on nationally coordinated blood transfusion services, they said.

So far, only 40 countries have established a 100 percent voluntary blood donation system, and fewer than 30 percent of countries have a nationally coordinated blood transfusion service in place, according to the WHO.

HIV-contaminated blood still accounts for approximately 5 percent of HIV infections in Africa. While in many countries more and more testing is being done to make blood safe, the WHO said most developing nations do not test for diseases such as HIV or hepatitis B and C.

Annually, some 6 million tests that should be done for infections are not done, according to the organization.

Source: Xinhua

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