The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, has disclosed that Nigeria needs 1.8 million units of blood yearly to save lives, calling on Nigerians with no health challenge to donate blood.
Addressing a press conference to mark the 2017 World Blood Donor Day in Abuja on Thursday, Adewole said that the country’s has a short fall of 500,000 units of blood per annum.
He said, “May I inform you that Nigeria’s estimated blood need is about 1.8 million units of blood per annum; National data indicate that voluntary non-remunerated blood donation accounts for only 10% of our total blood collection.
Family replacement donations as well as commercial donations on the other hand, account for 30 and 60 percent respectively”.
Adewole also announced that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved an Executive bill for the establishment of a National Blood Service Commission.
He said that when the bill is enacted into law, it will help standardize the practice of blood donation to meet up with the global standard.
He said, “I will also like to announce that an Executive bill for the establishment of a National Blood Service Commission was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council.
This bill when enacted into law will serve to consolidate on the gains made in the last 13 years and take the National Blood Service from its current status to the next level, in line with international best practices”.
On the country’s blood gap, the minister said that the ministry is in the process of concluding the regularization of appointments of core technical staff that were previously engaged on the programme while it was funded by the donor.
This development according to him “will ensure that relevant skill sets are available to optimize service delivery”.
He warned that blood can only be stored for a limited period of time before use, adding that, “In view of this, regular blood donation by a sufficient number of healthy people, men and women alike, is therefore needed to ensure that safe blood is available whenever and wherever it is needed.
We will work hard to broaden established linkages with hospitals in both urban and rural communities in order to increase access to safe blood and blood products”.
Adewole also revealed that the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) is “currently building community partnerships through the engagement of Community Based Organizations, and the organized private sector, to deepen awareness, grow a steady stream of regular blood donors, as well as make blood donation an integral part of their Social Responsibility programmes”.
“We are making steady progress in enlightening secondary school students to embrace the culture of voluntary blood donation from an early age through its Secondary School Blood Safety programme with the aim of getting them to commit to voluntary blood donation on attaining the age of 18 years,” he added.
On his part, representative of Save Blood for Africa (SBFAF), Mr. Hazmat Omotayo, said legislation is what the country needs to close the shortfall in blood supply in the country.
He called on Nigerian youths to always imbibe the habit of donating blood.
Also, Mr. Nathan John, the highest blood donor in Nigeria who said he has donated blood for about 54 times expressed joy that he is fulfilled saving lives.
John, a graphic artist with The Daily Times newspaper, said that he regain his blood in less than 24 hours following his intake of fluids and vegetables.
While calling on Nigerians to follow suit, John said, “Donating blood gives life to the bone marrows because it produces new blood cells. I feel happy doing this because of the conviction within me that I am saving a life”.
The theme of this year’s celebration is ”What can you do? give blood. give now. give often”.