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Tradition and false claims prompt concerns

The number of people in China donating blood has risen in recent years. For example, in 2016, the country recorded 10.5 unpaid blood donations per 1,000 people. However, that lagged behind 32.1 per 1,000 in high-income countries and 14.9 in upper-middle-income countries, the World Health Organization said.

In June, Zhou Changqiang, deputy head of the medical administration department at the National Health Commission, said blood supplies are often on a knife-edge as a result of the rising senior population and older women giving birth, which results in rising demand for healthcare services.

The balancing act is also affected by seasonal influences, such as extreme weather and the Spring Festival migration when people leave big cities where blood centers are situated.

In July, the blood center in Chongqing, Southwest China, warned of low reserves of blood when sweltering heat led to fewer people visiting donation facilities but an upsurge of accidents in the construction sector boosted demand for the limited supply, CQ News reported.

Media reports indicate that capitals, including Nanjing, Jiangsu province, Haikou, Hainan province, and Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, have raised concerns about the reduction in blood stocks for clinical use during Spring Festival when college students and migrant workers - who account for the majority of blood donors - travel to their hometowns.

Zhao Shuming, deputy head of the clinical laboratory at the Southwest Hospital in Chongqing, said people are deterred from giving blood by the traditional belief that donation can harm health and affect the vital essence, or jingqi, in traditional Chinese medicine.

"Also, the spread of the HIV virus in villages in Henan province in the 1980s (when blood was collected from unscreened donors) created negative connotations about donating. Moreover, many people still believe blood is a commodity," he said.

In addition to ingrained stereotypes and fears, advocates of voluntary donation have been the subject of rumors and misleading reports.

In September, a post on a popular micro blog falsely claimed that the Shenzhen Blood Center in Guangdong province had suspended screening and testing of donors, resulting in many recipients contracting HIV, according to reports on China National Radio.

"Now and then, a post will pop up on my social media feed saying donating blood raises the risk of contracting all kinds of viruses or can make you gain weight," Zhao said.

"These rumors fuel anxiety about giving blood. It's crucial for authorities to fund programs to foster a healthy and objective view of blood donation."

Source:China Daily  Editor:Lucky

(Source_title:Tradition and false claims prompt concerns)