Why Nigeria, others fail to provide safe blood, by WHO

Why Nigeria, others fail to provide safe blood, by WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that Nigeria and other low and middle-income countries struggle to provide safe blood because donations are low while equipment for testing of blood is scarce.

It stated this yesterday on the sidelines of the World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) with the theme, “Safe Blood Saves Lives.”
“Access to safe blood is still a privilege of a few. Most low and middle-income countries struggle to make safe blood available because donations are low and equipment to test blood is scarce.

“Globally, 42 per cent of blood is collected in high-income countries, which are home to only 16 per cent of global population. An adequate supply of safe blood can only be assured through regular donations by voluntary unpaid blood donors,” the statement added.

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Besides, Nigeria needs about two million blood units yearly but collects much less than that currently, leaving unmet needs that lead to avoidable deaths, diseases and ill-health.

In 2019, about 24,483 units of blood were collected and screened from volunteer blood donors in 17 centres of the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) network, while 19,676 units were issued to various hospitals nationwide for transfusion purposes.

But the COVID-19 pandemic jeopardised the supply of safe blood, as regular blood donation drive had to be postponed and regulations for self-isolation, lockdown and fear of infection have hindered blood donors from accessing blood donation centres.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who disclosed this at this year’s WBDD in Abuja, said transportation and trade restrictions also disrupted global supply chains, putting countries at risk of shortages of critical supplies and equipment used for blood donation, processing, testing and transfusion to patients who need blood.

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Also, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, said the state would require 260,000 units of blood annually to meet the increasing blood transfusion demand at its health facilities.

Abayomi, who stated this through a Zoom Live Feeds organised by the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service (LSBTS) to commemorate this year’s WBDD, noted that efforts were being intensified to meet and surpass the requirements through recruitment and retention of voluntary blood donors.

Speaking on “Give Blood And Make The World A Healthier Place,” he said encouraging and promoting voluntary blood donation in a safe and conducive environment was the state government’s goal.

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Executive Secretary, LSBTS, Dr. Bodunrin Oshikomaiya, said the campaign to increase voluntary blood donation drive has been intensified and sustained to meet with the blood transfusion needs in Lagos.

Meanwhile, the Hematology Department of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in collaboration with the state’s Ministry of Health have charged stakeholders to create sustained awareness on the importance of blood donation despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Consultant Hematologist at LASUTH, Dr. Adedoyin Dosumu, who gave the charge at WBDD said this was in line with the WHO’s mandate to countries to celebrate and thank individuals who donate blood and encourage more people to start donating blood.

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