ISLAMABAD - Blood transfusion system is weak in Pakistan as only 60 per cent blood banks screen blood for only three diseases and infectious blood transfusions instead of saving lives are spreading diseases. Quaid Saeed, WHO National Programme Officer for Blood Safety and HIV revealed this at press conference on Tuesday. Dr Hasan Abbas Zaheer, National Programme Manager, National Blood Transfusion Programme and Asma Cheema, Manager, Blood Donor Centre, Pakistan Red Crescent Society were also among the speakers. The press conference was held on the eve of World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) that was being marked on Tuesday. The day is celebrated throughout the world to create wider awareness of the need for safe blood for transfusion and the importance of blood donation, and to thank blood donors for their gift of blood. The theme of this years WBDD is More Blood, More Life. The theme reinforces the urgent need for more people all over the world to become lifesavers by volunteering to donate blood regularly for those in urgent need of it. Quaid Saeed said there is practically no system to monitor and run blood banks in the country, although government has initiated regulatory laws, still they are not being implemented in letter and spirit. There is lack of national standards and protocols that are needed to run blood transfusion services in efficient and quality assured manner. He informed there is no national voluntary blood donation programme that could recruit and retain donors. Only 2 per cent people donate blood voluntarily while 98 per cent blood transfusion is paid or donated by family donors. In 2008, 45 per cent of the blood banks reported an annual transfusion of 9,60,000 blood bags out of which only 1,20,000 were donated by voluntary unpaid donors while the rest 98 per cent were family or replacement donors donating blood for their sick family members or friends, he added. He explained that the practice of family or replacement donors is discouraged by WHO since donors from family members of patients have higher rate of blood borne diseases compared to voluntary unpaid donors. All public sector blood banks report screening of blood bags for three diseases namely HIV, Hepatitis B and C while WHO recommends that blood should be screened for at-least five diseases that should also include screening for Malaria and Syphilis. Dr. Hasan Abbas Zaheer, National Programme Manager, National Blood Transfusion Programme informed that under a new program supported by German Government, WHO and Government of Pakistan 13 regional transfusion centres linked to 78 hospital based blood banks would be built and developed. These Regional Blood Centres would serve as blood procurement and distribution centres ensuring quality and standards. They would be mobilising voluntary blood donors, processing, screening, testing and component preparations. On the other hand the hospital based Blood Banks would only provide storage, distribution and compatibility testing and transfusing to the recipient. This new system would provide a central processing system based on a regular blood supply from voluntary unpaid donors and where quality and standards for quality assured blood components could be ensured. According to the Global Database of Blood Safety 2008, a survey carried out by WHO world wide; there are 2515 blood banks in Pakistan of which 170 are in public sector, 15 run by NGOs and 2330 by for profit commercial organizations.