Global action towards 100 per cent voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation

Blood transfusion is indispensable in lifesaving health care and improves the health of millions. There are chronic shortages of safe blood and blood products in many countries, so blood transfusion is not available for a substantial proportion of the world’s population. The number of people who are willing and eligible to donate their blood must increase.

Vision: 100 per cent voluntary blood donation

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have developed a framework for global action to achieve 100 per cent voluntary blood donation in every country.

The framework is based on the recognition that voluntary non-remunerated blood donation (VNRBD) is the foundation of a safe, sustainable blood supply. The aim is to strengthen national blood donor programmes to build a stable pool of the safest possible blood donors.

Blood donors – a national resource

Voluntary blood donors give blood, plasma or cellular components for altruistic reasons. They receive no payment for it, in cash or in kind. This includes time off work other than that reasonably needed for the donation and travel. Their conscious decision to donate is motivated by their desire to help others and by a sense of social responsibility.

In countries still dependent on blood donation by patients’ relatives or by paid donation, increasing VNRBD will help shift the responsibility for blood provision from patients' relatives to the health care system and discourage people from selling their blood.

To date 54 countries, including resource-limited countries, have achieved a national blood supply based on 100 per cent voluntary donation.

Who is the global framework for?

The framework is designed for use by policy-makers, planners and managers at all levels in ministries of health, regional health authorities, blood transfusion services, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, blood donor organizations and other partners that are working towards 100 per cent voluntary blood donation.

It proposes strategies and actions that can be taken at national and community levels and outlines the actions being taken by the WHO and the IFRC to support countries in making these strategies work.

How the global framework was developed

The WHO and the IFRC organized training workshops that were held in the African, Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asian and Western Pacific regions to develop a voluntary blood donor programme.

Blood donor managers, donor recruitment and care staff from ministries of health, blood transfusion services and National Societies, senior volunteers from blood donor organizations, Club 25s and other non-governmental organizations took part. They shared information of factors contributing to successes and failures in building effective blood donor programmes.

The framework for global action will be considered for review within five years. In the meantime, any updates to the recommendations are added to the WHO Blood Transfusion Safety website

Global framework for action to achieve 100 per cent voluntary blood donation

The framework is designed to assist countries to increase voluntary blood donation with support from governments, partners and other stakeholders.

  • It has four main strategic areas: Establishment of national blood donor programmes based on 100 per cent voluntary donation
  • Create a culture of voluntary blood donation through communication and education, and celebration of World Blood Donor Day (WBDD)
  • Build a stable blood donor pool by motivating and recruiting new donors from low-risk populations, and encouraging existing or lapsed donors to become regular donors and to recognize the contribution to society made by blood donors
  • Provide quality donor care, so that blood donation is not onerous

The IFRC has always advocated voluntary blood donation. Even before blood banking became possible in the 1930s, at least one National Society was promoting voluntary blood donation.

Today, over half of all National Societies do the same and all are encouraged to work with their national health authority to help achieve 100 per cent voluntary blood donation. The IFRC is committed to increasing the number of countries in which its members promote VNRBD.

The IFRC has also established a Global Advisory Panel for National Societies with Blood Programmes (GAP). GAP is an expert group drawn from a range of National Societies which promotes and facilitates best practice for blood programmes for all National Societies.


Voluntary blood donation

Read the new brochure on voluntary blood donation