Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has urged more Nigerians to voluntarily donate blood because it is a critical and indispensable healthcare requirement both for treatment and urgent intervention.
in his statement to mark the World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) 2020 marked on Sunday, 14th June, 2020 through a live Social Media engagement, Ehanire celebrated regular donors but urged more Nigerians to voluntarily donate blood because it is a critical and indispensable healthcare requirement both for treatment and urgent intervention which plays an essential lifesaving role in maternal and child care, especially bleeding after delivery, in severe anemia, helping sickle cell disease patient, victims of major accidents, and in emergency situations after natural or industrial disasters.
The World Blood Donor Day, celebrated every year on the 14th of June is meant to raise awareness on the need for safe blood transfusion as well as recognize and thank blood donors worldwide. The Honourable Minister of health revealed that the theme for this year’s WBDD campaign “Safe blood saves lives” and slogan “Give blood and make the world a healthier place” were adopted to focus on the notion that blood is life and donors give the gift of life to others. He said the need for voluntary blood donation is meant to assure individuals and communities of access to safe and quality assured blood and blood products.
He further expressed the observation that the need for safe blood is universal, but safe blood is still not accessible to many people in the world “as most low and middle income countries still struggle to make safe blood available to their citizens. The health Minister attributed this inaccessibility of many persons to safe blood to the quality of blood donation which he said is insufficient and the standardized equipment for testing blood is expensive and scarce; further worsened, the world over by COVID-19. Globally, Dr. Ehanire revealed that 42% of blood collection and use is in high income countries that constitute just 16% of global population.
The Honourable Minister of Health however stated that the Nigeria National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS) is striving to provide adequate supplies of safe blood, screened with modern, fully automated enzyme linked immune-sorbent assay (ELISA) technology as well as increasing its scope of work by scaling up its annual blood collection rate and sustaining ongoing efforts to expand the reach of its services. Nigeria ‘s estimated blood need has been put at about 2 million units per year, whereas the current collection falls much less, leaving unmet needs that leads to avoidable deaths, morbidities and ill health. He disclosed that in 2019 about 24,483 units of blood were collected and screened from volunteer blood donors through 17 Centres of the NBTS network, whereas 19,676 units of blood were issued to various hospitals nationwide for transfusion purposes. This gives a deficit of 4, 807 of blood issued over the voluntarily donated units.
Ehanire said that the Federal Ministry of Health is currently considering proposals for a major investment from public and private sectors to upgrade the capacity of the NBTS to enable it achieve its potential to produce blood components and plasma-derived medicinal products at a commercial scale that meets international best standards to enter the world market. He seized the opportunity to announce that the Legislative process of the bill for the establishment of the National Blood Service Commission is at an advanced stage and awaiting public hearing at the National Assembly. While calling on people of goodwill in Nigeria and the world over who are healthy to become life savers by volunteering to donate blood to make safe blood available to everyone in need of it, which is an act of solidarity and service to mankind.
“We are here to raise awareness amongst the population to let people know that donating blood provides the opportunity for availability of safe blood at hospitals and all areas where they are required for treatment and saving lives.” He added that “Nobody knows who will be in need of blood at any time; you do not know if your relative or friend or even you might, before the end of the day or before the end of the week, be in a place where you require blood immediately and you will like to see that blood is available and that the blood is safe, screened and that it is what can save your life, or the life of a friend, or the life of a relative; therefore, awareness creation among the population for which we have already recognized the media and also events and activities like this, like the World Blood Donor Day are important in bringing to the minds of people, the importance of donating, screening, banking and making blood available through a well-organized transport system to all parts of the country for all citizens.”