India, which boasts a population of 1.2 billion citizens, is facing a blood shortage crisis and the World Health Organization is making a plea for blood donations.

Donations from just two percent of the burgeoning population could make a huge difference, according to WHO.

"The shelf-life of donated blood is 35 to 42 days. There is a constant need to replenish stocks in our blood banks. The problem could be addressed if only two percent more Indians donated blood," Anju Verma, chief medical officer, Rotary Blood Bank, told the Times of India.

Currently the country collects about 9 million units each year. The need is 12 million units and donations are only coming from one percent of eligible donors.

"Healthy donors are between the age of 18 to 65 years. So they should come out and donate blood," said Verma.

The blood supply is needed to help treat those undergoing surgery; cancer procedures and pregnancy related issues as well as blood diseases.

The organization established June 14 its World Blood Donors Day. The need for safe blood in on the rise, say health officials.

"Safe blood includes all that is available for transfusion. The donated blood should ideally be checked for HIV, HBV (hepatitis B virus), HCV (hepatitis C virus) and other blood transmitted diseases prior to being made available for transfusion," Nochiketa Mohanty, country program manager, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said.

According to WHO 800 mothers around the globe die in pregnancy, childbirth or following childbirth with 99 percent in developing countries. Severe blood loss accounts for 31 percent of mothers' deaths in Asia.

"Sri Lankans donate around 380,000 units of blood every year and 100 percent of donated blood comes from voluntary, non-remunerated donors. Sri Lanka has demonstrated strong political will and effective community mobilization, which has resulted in comprehensive, nationally coordinated blood transfusion services," said WHO regional director for South-East Asia Poonam Khetrapal Singh.

On a global front health officials say someone in the world requires blood every two seconds. The American Red Cross reports that while nearly 40 percent of U.S. residents are healthy enough to donate safe blood, just about 10 percent actually donate.

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