Blood Donation in Georgia: Obstacles and Opportunities

According to a report by the World Health Organization, blood donations in Georgia fall below the estimated need for patients. Approximately 60,000 donations are necessary per year to cover Georgian patients’ needs, while the number of actual blood donation does not exceed 37,000. Moreover, 95% of blood donations come from paid donors. The main obstacle in advocating volunteer blood donation is due in part to the fact that being paid to donate blood is deeply rooted in public perceptions and volunteer blood donors get little support from Georgian society. This blog looks at the obstacles and opportunities for fostering volunteer blood donation and shows that over half of the Georgian population disagrees with the statement that “people donating blood should be paid”, and that lack of awareness remains a deterrent.

Source: World Health Organization 

According to the Caucasus Barometer 2011, about 80% of Georgians have never donated blood and 61% have not seen or heard anything about donating blood during the last two years. 57% do not personally know anyone who has donated blood in the last 10 years. Yet according to the same data, 61% of Georgians disagree with the statement that “people donating blood should be paid” (only 22% agree). If, as the data shows, over half of the Georgian population is against paid blood donations, what obstacles prevent the establishment a good practice of blood donation in Georgia? To explore the potential reasons behind this finding, CRRC asked Georgians why they have never donated blood.

Source: Caucasus Barometer, 2011

The data shows that 20% of Georgians cannot state an exact reason for not donating blood. A promising 9% say they do not know where to go and only 4% say that they do not like the idea of donating blood. 20% think that not being in good health or doctors’ advice against blood donation is the main reason why they have never donated blood, while 8% are afraid of possible infection, and 7% of Georgians indicate a fear of needles.

In another survey on Volunteerism and Civic Participation in 2011, CRRC asked Georgians what they thought were the main reasons why people do not donate blood. The answer options are different here, but still reflect the difference between what people mention as their own reason for not donating blood and their perceptions of others’ reasons for the same behaviour. Namely, 17% say people are preoccupied with their own problems. While talking about themselves only, 6% say they do not have time to donate blood. Similarly, 10% of Georgians think that being indifferent towards the problems of others is the main reason for people not donating blood – an answer which is less likely to be mentioned when people talk about themselves. 

Source: Survey on Volunteerism and Civic Participation, 2011

As the chart shows, 30% of Georgians are unsure about the reasons why people do not donate blood in Georgia. 15% mention being afraid of infections as a reason for not donating blood, reflecting a concern related to blood safety standards that exists in Georgian society and prevents some people from donating blood. 
Lack of awareness seems to be another factor explaining the low level of volunteer blood donors in Georgia. 6% of Georgians think people find donating blood as unnecessary. 5% say people do not know where to go in order to donate blood and 4% think people do not know that they can donate blood at all. In total 15% of Georgians think having no information is the main reason why people do not donate blood. These results indicate that there is room for awareness-raising campaigns. Filling the information gap can be an important step to promoting volunteer blood donation in the country.
Finally, Georgians were asked how possible it is that they donate blood in the next 12 months. 38% of Georgians are unsure, 21% think it will never happen and a promising 11% say it is highly expected. CRRC data indicates that this 11% can be increased by improving blood safety standards and raising public awareness about the importance of blood donation, as well as about blood banks already operating in Georgia.

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