Speech of Dr Juliet Fleischl for World Blood Donor Day 2015

Dr Juliet Fleischl
WHO Representative to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
19 June 2015, Chao Anouvong Park

His Excellency, Prof. Dr Eksavang Vongvichit, Minister of Health;
Dr. Nao Boutta, Director of the Cabinet of Ministry of Health;
Mr Laoly Faiphengyua, President of Lao Red Cross;
Associate Prof. Dr. Sing Menorath, Vice President of Lao Red Cross;
Esteemed government officials from the Ministry of Health;
Distinguished guests and colleague;
Ladies and gentlemen
Good afternoon.

It is an honour for me to address you, on behalf of the World Health Organization and to welcome you to the annual celebration of the World Blood Donor Day, which falls on 14 June each year. The theme for this year’s campaign is "Thank you for saving my life".

Blood donors save lives every day through their blood donations; in every second around the world, there is a person who needs a blood transfusion to survive.

In every country, surgery, trauma, severe anaemia and complications of pregnancy are among the clinical conditions that demand blood transfusion.

Blood transfusion is a unique technology in that its collection, processing and use are scientifically based, but its availability depends on the extraordinary generosity of people who donate it.

There is a need for regular blood donation due to the short shelf life of blood components, like red cells, plasma and platelets, use for patients for various treatments with specific conditions.

However, a single unit of blood can benefit several patients.

In many developing countries, up to 65% of blood transfusions are given to children under five years of age, suffering from severe life threatening anaemia or malnutrition; and women with obstetric emergencies; and trauma victims.

As blood donation depends on the generosity of those who donate it, it is important to note that there is no harm to a donor health after blood donation as blood gets replaced in the body every few weeks.

To ensure quality of donor care and the health of blood donor, all donors are given a basic health check and medical interview to ensure that you are fit to donate blood, and there are many cases where donors are turned away when they fail to meet the criteria of blood donation.

Around the world, only73 countries collect over 90% of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors; the rate in Lao PDR is 58% of WHO recommended one per cent. Nearly 35,000 units was collected in 2013, so more has to be done to move toward achieving 60,000 units or 100% voluntary blood donation. Around 40 countries in the world are still dependent on family donors and even paid donors.

So if you are healthy and fit and weigh above 45 kilograms, aged from 17-60, you can give blood. If you have given blood before, you should be able to give blood.

I know that many of you present today will be asking, where can I go if I would like to give blood? Where is the nearest blood donation centre?

The Lao Red Cross National Blood Transfusion Centre coordinates blood collection in Laos; do pick up a brochure from the booth if you are interested to give blood, or visit the Lao Red Cross or WHO web site for more information.

In closing, I would like to commend and thank blood donors for their life-saving donations; it will continue to provide a regular source of blood needed in hospitals and health facilities, and at the same time, I would strongly encourage everyone gathered here; people in good health who have never given blood, particularly young people, to begin doing so.

“Give freely, give often. Blood donation matters.” You will never know when the blood you give becomes a gift of life to a trauma or road accident victim who urgently needs a blood transfusion to survive.

It also has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and child care when given to women with complication during pregnancy and young children with conditions or injuries requiring blood transfusion.

Through the advocacy for the World Blood Donor Day, the World Health Organization hopes that Lao PDR can collect above 90% or even 100% of blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors by 2020.

Thank you.