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Shortage of Indian women blood donors because of poor health


Laura Bridgestock
WVoN co-editor 

Reports about the huge gender disparity among blood donors in India have highlighted the poor health of many women in the country.

According to ZeeNews, India needs between eight and ten million units of blood every year, but donations currently provide only 5.5 million units.

There are a number of reasons for the deficit, including insufficient numbers of blood bank facilities, and a lack of public awareness about the importance of donating blood, or misperceptions about the risk involved.

However, the most startling fact about India’s blood donation deficit is that so few women donate – not because they don’t want to, but because poor health disqualifies them.

World Health Organisation statistics from 2011 revealed that just 6% of blood donations in India are made by women.

Dr Anju Verma, Chief Medical Officer at Rotary Blood Bank, Delhi, said, “The percentage is low as they are deferred due to physiological problems. Most of them have low haemoglobin count and fail to meet the minimum requirements to donate blood.”

Medical professionals interviewed for an article in The Hindu agree that it’s not that women don’t want to donate – but that they face greater health barriers to doing so.

College students comprise the country’s largest group of donors, and both male and female students are coming forward, but women are more likely to be turned away.

One student, Aaditya, said: “Some do not take precautions like having breakfast and end up fainting after donating blood, which scares the rest. I had a classmate who was not allowed to donate as she was underweight. She worked on it and came back to donate this year.”

India is not alone in having a large gender disparity among blood donors.

The WHO data released last year showed that 70% of blood donations worldwide were made by men.

Of the 100 countries for which data was available, only a quarter reported more than 40% of donations from women.

Meanwhile India was joined by 15 other countries in which less than 10% of blood donations are made by women.

India was recently voted the worst G-20 nation to live in as a woman (see WVoN story).

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