Globally, many countries don’t have enough donated blood to meet their needs, a recent study suggests.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that for every 1,000 people in any country, 10 to 20 blood donations are needed to provide adequate supplies. Blood transfusions save lives and improve health, and the WHO says ensuring a safe and adequate supply of blood should be an integral part of every country’s national health care policy.
But the study of the blood supply and demands for transfusions based on common health issues in 195 countries found that 119 of them may not have enough blood to meet the population’s needs.
“As more people are able to access care in low and middle income countries, the demand for blood transfusions will increase further, and — without financial, structural and regulatory support — will widen the gap we’ve uncovered between global supply and demand of blood,” said Meghan Delaney, a co-author of the study and a researcher at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.
The study is the first to estimate the gap between global supply and demand of blood based on country-specific medical needs, her team writes in the Lancet Haematology.
“Other studies have focused on blood safety, such as the risk of transmitting infections such as HIV, but ours is the first to identify where the most critical shortages lie, and therefore where the most work needs to be done by governments to increase donation, scale-up transfusion services and develop alternatives,” said co-author Christina Fitzmaurice from the University of Washington.
To calculate the availability of blood worldwide, the researchers used data from a WHO survey on transfusion practices between 2011 and 2013, to which 180 of 195 countries responded.