To mark this year’s World Blood Donor Day on 14 June, the Global Blood Fund (GBF) will release multiple interpretations of Pete Townshend’s song Give Blood. The song will be performed by various African artists. This will be done in partnership with the Africa Society for Blood Transfusion (AfSBT), and the Coalition of Blood for Africa (CoBA).

The song’s videos can be shared on social media and through other channels. The videos are being donated by the charity free-of-charge to blood services across Africa, Latin America and the Middle East for use on and around World Blood Donor Day.

Pete Townshend, guitarist and principal songwriter for rock band, The Who, said, “Although it is now more than 35 years since I wrote the song Give Blood, this is the first time it has actually been used to encourage blood donation. Shortage of blood around the world is a huge issue, particularly in poorer countries, and so I was delighted to give permission for the Global Blood Fund to use my work to help communicate the need for more donors to come forward.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the minimum number of units of blood needed to sustain an adequate level of health equals 1% of a nation’s population is 10 units per 1000 people. Many African countries fall well short of this minimum goal. The lack of infrastructure and equipment for collection and processing of blood components is a key impediment to providing a sustainable blood supply, as is a shortage of volunteer donors.

Though blood and safe transfusion services are essential parts of any strong health system, the safety, sustainability and adequacy of blood remains a major health challenge in many African countries.

GBF’s Executive Director, Gavin Evans, explained, “Each year it becomes harder for messages about the importance of blood donation to cut through to the public, even though tens of thousands tragically die because of blood shortages. But with music such an influential part of people’s lives, especially in many of those countries that struggle most to collect enough blood. For 2021 we are using lyrics and melody to highlight the extraordinary impact of donor generosity.”

Working closely with national and regional blood services across Africa, the music tracks will be released through multiple channels in the run up to 14 June. National blood services have been encouraged to be creative in how they use materials.