Blood reserve growing in quality, quantity
SHANGHAI: China's blood reserve situation is better than ever thanks to a rapid increase in voluntary blood donations, more governmental investment in capacity building, stricter supervision and more scientific management of the blood market, a senior official said.
Blood donated by volunteers accounted for 85 per cent of the total clinical blood consumption in 2003, up from 22 per cent in 1998, said Yi Mei, director of the Blood Division of the Ministry of Health.
"Of course, we should recognize 15 per cent of the blood consumption still depends on people asking for payment for their blood, causing a risk of disease spreading," she said.
Blood sales was a main cause of HIV/AIDS spreading in many rural areas of China's Henan, Sichuan, Shanxi and other provinces in the early 1990s as many farmers rushed to sell blood to illegal blood stations without any testing measures.
Fortunately, all these illegal blood stations were closed at the end of the 1990s.
Moreover, 2.25 billion yuan (US$280 million) was invested by the central government in 2001 to promote the capacity of the national blood collection and transmission service network both in "hardware" and in training building.
In western and remote areas, more official blood centres and stations have been established.
Meanwhile, a total of 283 official blood stations have been closed in East, South and Northeast China.
"These stations are closed not because they have done something wrong, but because they are not necessary and in order to make blood collection and disease testing strict and accurate, we need to collect the blood collectively in larger centres," Yi said at the ongoing 55th session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Western Pacific.
Blood safety is a main topic of the session which calls on WHO member countries, especially developing nations, to make efforts to eliminate paid blood collection.
Developing countries account for 80 per cent of the world population, but only collect and consume 20 per cent of the blood collected worldwide each year.
Closing unnecessary blood stations means many people will be laid off, "but for a safer blood situation, it is worth it," Yi noted.
People who have been laid off include workers in blood centres and stations who had not passed the national examination for blood safety operation in the past two years, Yi said.
All the blood collected and used for clinical purposes has to pass necessary tests for diseases which can be transmitted through blood.
China still needs to strengthen voluntary blood donation.
Employer-supported donation should be cancelled gradually as public awareness increases, Yi said.