By Xavier Castellanos, Director, IFRC Americas Zone
What does it mean to give 100 per cent? Giving it your all, putting in everything you have, not leaving a drop to chance?
For many mothers, giving 100 per cent during childbirth may not be enough to survive without an additional supply of safe blood. More than 800 women die every day from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications, almost all in developing countries. Severe bleeding during delivery or after childbirth contributes to 21 per cent of maternal deaths in Latin America alone.
Today on World Blood Donor Day, we celebrate those who give 100 per cent. The volunteers who give blood to save those who give life.
For countries across the world, 100 per cent is also the number to strive for when it comes to voluntary blood donation. More than 34 million Red Cross Red Crescent donors choose to give blood every year in exchange only for the satisfaction of knowing they may save a life. Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, along with partners like the World Health Organization, are aiming for 100 per cent of countries to have voluntary blood donation, as voluntary donations are also the safest.
This is not an easy job, but it is one that the National Blood Service Programme of the Nicaraguan Red Cross has worked hard to achieve in the last six years. They are now responsible for the collection, processing and distribution of voluntary blood donation products for the entire country. A remarkable achievement.
In 2008, the voluntary blood donation rate in the country was only 48 per cent, and the service depended mostly on replacement donors who donated blood on behalf of a friend or a relative in need. The changed has been achieved through new blood donor education, enhanced community volunteer participation, donor recruitment, and strategically placed blood drives.
What does this mean for Nicaragua? It means the role of voluntary blood donors has directly contributed to improving maternal health, providing easier access and safe blood for more transfusions.
Imagine what this could mean for the rest of the world as we push for all countries to supply blood through voluntary donors.
- More funds put toward promotional campaigns, education materials, blood drives and usage of social networks for blood donation matters instead of donor incentive.
Safer blood with lower contamination risk.
More awareness around the need for blood to save lives.
A strong and resilient health system is not possible without a safe, sustainable and accessible blood supply, and the proven best was to reach this is with voluntary unpaid donors.
We must continue to encourage non-governmental organizations, governments, international organizations, private companies and citizens to do their part in giving 100 per cent. Advocate for voluntary blood donation in every country. Encourage everyone eligible to give blood. Spread the message about those who need life most and our ability so easily to give it. We plan to give this 100 per cent.
What does giving 100 per cent mean to you?