World Blood Donation Day
This year is the 10th anniversary of the first World Blood Donor Day, with the theme: a 'gift that saves lives'.
World Blood Donor Day aims to build a worldwide culture of voluntary blood donation. Over the past decade this event has celebrated blood donors, highlighting the unique life-saving role they play in the health of their community.
It also raises awareness about the need for blood and how many more people throughout the world need to become regular voluntary blood donors.
Australian Red Cross, through its international development program, and in partnership with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, is working to help countries throughout the Pacific develop a safe and reliable blood supply with planning support, community education programs and training.
Regular voluntary, unpaid blood donors are the cornerstone of a safe and sustainable blood supply, but in many developing countries they provide less than half the supply.
The World Health Organisation - WHO - estimates that of the 287,000 women worldwide who die from pregnancy complications each year, between a quarter and a half die from lack of blood.
This year's global campaign is focusing on thanking blood donors and promoting voluntary unpaid blood donations.
Governments are also being encouraged to commit to achieving self-sufficiency in blood supplies and blood products with 100 per cent unpaid voluntary donations.
One way in which Red Cross is tackling the problem is through a youth peer education project in the Solomon Islands. Solomon Islands Red Cross has struggled to sustain its voluntary blood donor program, which was restored in 2007, after years of civil unrest. The program aims to have at least one per cent of the population - around 5900 people - become active voluntary unpaid blood donors. There are currently 1500 active registered blood donors. Only 14 of them are young people.
In Indonesia, Australian Red Cross is partnering with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to support the development of a sufficient, sustainable and quality national blood service with a focus on a national governance framework including blood policy and regulation.
Along with the Solomon Islands program, Australian Red Cross has also been running other projects under its International Humanitarian Blood Program in Tibet, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.
Australian Red Cross runs the Pacific Transfusion Leaders Program, supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) through the Australia Awards Fellowships. The program works to supporting a Pacific network of leaders in transfusion. These leaders take a regional approach to the improvement of transfusion policy and practice, developing Pacific solutions to Pacific issues, resulting in a safer blood supply.
Photo: Deanne Seppy, Blood Donor Recruitment Officer, Solomon Islands Red Cross. (Australian Red Cross/Joe Cropp)