Highlighting the critical need for more blood donors to increase and diversify our blood supply, National Blood Donor Month engages and inspires individuals to contribute to the cause, raising awareness and helping save countless lives.
Shameet Thakkar, leading humanitarian aid and global health expert, comments on the key role of blood donations in the humanitarian field, with this resource being a vital piece of the puzzle in our battle to strengthen our humanitarian aid response as well as our healthcare systems.
He says: “From a humanitarian point of view, increasing our blood supply is important for both emergency aid and improving long-term resilience of our health systems.”
“The record number of humanitarian crises in 2023 and the countless victims in dire need of medical assistance around the globe have shown us just how essential ready access to medical commodities is.
“Blood donation plays a pivotal role in emergency situations, including natural disasters, conflicts, and other crises, where immediate and adequate access to blood can mean the difference between life and death.
“Humanitarian crises can bring about a range of health challenges, from injuries and trauma to the spread of infectious diseases, and a robust blood supply provides flexibility in addressing the diverse health issues that may arise.
“In conflict zones, where access to healthcare may be compromised, having a reliable blood supply becomes paramount, too. It is crucial for performing surgeries, treating trauma cases, and managing other health issues.
“Regular blood donations ensure that blood banks and medical facilities have an ample reserve to meet the sudden surge in demand during crises, particularly in countries that don’t have enough of it to provide routine medical care, let alone to cope with emergencies.”
Reflecting on the role of this precious resource in strengthening healthcare systems, he adds: “National Blood Donor Month also holds crucial importance for long-term healthcare resilience by highlighting the ongoing need for a consistent and robust blood supply.
"It is vital that health systems globally are well-equipped to handle the unpredictable and varied medical needs of populations affected by crises, yet this is not yet a reality.
“While the focus during emergencies is evident, maintaining a steady and ample blood inventory is equally essential for routine medical care, surgeries, organ transplants, cancer treatments, chronic conditions, and other aspects of healthcare delivery that contribute to long-term community health and resilience.
“A consistent blood supply is therefore integral to the functioning of healthcare infrastructure, supporting the overall resilience of hospitals and allowing them to operate efficiently.
“Unfortunately, we have a long way to go before all healthcare systems globally can effectively protect and care for their populations by being able to both maintain patient care and suitably respond to emergencies or disasters.
“However, we can certainly take steps in the right direction. By encouraging regular blood donations, National Blood Donor Month supports routine medical care, sustains healthcare infrastructure, and promotes community health preparedness.
“It also highlights our shared responsibility to protect the most vulnerable, and shows us that there are things we can all do on an individual basis to help improve healthcare around the world.”