By Chioma Obinna & Oluchi Muogbo
Only 2000 of the estimated 18 million people in Lagos donate blood voluntarily even as the need for safe blood through recruitment of voluntary blood donors was at the front burner at this yearâ€™s Blood Donation Day.
Speaking at the even organised by the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Committee, the Chairman, Prof Ibironke Akinsete who noted that although there have been systematic increases of voluntary donors compared to previous years before 2004, declared that the figure remains poor in a mega city that uses not less than 150,000 pints of blood a year.
She said Lagos still depends on blood donation by families or friends of patients who require blood and blood donors still receive payment.
â€œWe must move away from this kind of practice, and encourage voluntary donation that does not require reward except a big thank you and the joy of knowing that you have saved a life.â€
She blamed the problem surrounding voluntary donation on lack of knowledge, information and fear, stressing that blood donation is safe and cannot harm anyone, not even the youth.
â€œBlood is an essential part of patient care and therefore it must be made safe and the only way to make it a reality is to intensify concerted efforts at recruiting and maintaining a large pool of healthy voluntary blood donors.
Making blood safe through recruitment of voluntary blood donors is also essential for us to reduce the prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis in our environment and we must rise up to these challengesâ€ she added.
State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris said apart from the health benefits that blood donors have a healthier bone marrow and longer life, voluntary donors will not be required to replace any unit of blood they use when they need it.
Idris hinted that the World Health organisation (WHO) has recommended that all countries should work towards the attainment of 100 per cent voluntary blood donation by 2013.
Wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola lamented the poor number of blood donation volunteers in the state,but was optimistic of 100 percent voluntary blood donation and advocated for non- remunerated blood donors. Chairman Surulere Local Government, Dr. Rasak Folami said being a regular blood donor was a very good way of exercising the bone marrow thereby allowing for better blood formation.