Health Ministry: Why Nigerians must donate blood voluntarily

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Linus Awute, on Saturday, June 13, said the estimated blood needs in Nigeria stands at between 1.4 to 1.7 million units per annum.

Awute said this during the commemoration of the 2015 World Blood Donor Day tagged: "Thank you for saving my life’’ in Abuja, scheduled to hold today June 14 globally.

"Unfortunately much less is collected, leading to avoidable deaths and morbidity particularly among our women folks, newborn children, victims of road traffic accidents and insurgencies.

"The situation can improve if only one per cent of our country’s adult population commit themselves to voluntary non-remunerated blood donation on a regular basis.

"This will go long way in getting rid of touts and blood racketeering,’’ he said.

He said that the use of blood and blood products has become an integral part of modern medical practice, adding that about 108 million units of blood are utilised per annum in the world.

Awute, however, urged Nigerians to take important decision of becoming voluntary non-remunerated blood donors.

"The use of blood is far too critical to be left in the hands of touts and racketeers, who commercialise this precious gift of life,’’ he said.

The permanent secretary said that statistics show that voluntary/non-remunerated blood donation accounts for only 10 per cent of the total blood collection.

He said there is need to urgently reverse the trend.

Awute called on health professionals, hospitals and other related institutions to join hands with the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS) as it pursues the noble cause using a coordinated approach.

"I make a special appeal to our tertiary and secondary hospitals to embrace the Hospital Linkage Programme (HLP) designed by the NBTS.

"The state governments need to take blood safety as an essential part of their health systems and to ensure the implementation of resolutions reached at the 55th and 56th National Council on Health (NCH) on blood safety,’’ he said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Rui Vaz, said that about 65 per cent of blood donation in world is used by children below five years of age.

"Some of the children that need the blood can be due to some communicable diseases like Malaria and other infectious diseases.

"In the African region, approximately four million of blood donors represent 50 per cent of what is needed for the region,’’ he said.

Vaz said that WHO will continue to provide support and not just formulate policies and guidelines but ensure more awareness campaign on the donation of safe blood.

Earlier, the Director of Hospital Services, Dr Patience Osinubi, said that the focus of the day was to thank blood donors who had saved lives through their blood donations.

"The campaign also aims to highlight stories from people whose lives have been saved through blood donation.

"It’s a way of motivating regular blood donors to continue giving blood and for people who enjoy good health but have never given blood to begin doing so,’’ she said.
Mr Nathaniel John and his wife, Loveth, were given an award for the highest blood donor for this year.
The awardees, however, encouraged youths to donate blood as a way for them to know the state of their health.

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