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Know your blood group, commissioner advises women

By Chioma Obinna
LAGOS — Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, has called on women of child bearing age to ensure that they know their blood groups and rhesus factor, a substance found in the blood symbolised by plus or minus after the blood group, in order to prevent miscarriages and even death that may result from Rhesus Incompatibility with their husbands.

Idris who made the call at a press briefing in collaboration with Rhesus Solution Initiative (RSI) announced that the state would next week officially launch a free screening/awareness programme on Rhesus Incompatibility for women of child bearing age in the state.

He explained that the call became necessary in order to achieve maternal and infant mortality reduction as well as attain the Millennium Development Goals Four and Five.

The State commissioner affirmed that rhesus incompatibility is a common cause of repeated miscarriages and still births commonly referred to as Abiku, Ogbanje and in some instances, associated with witchcraft stressing that majority of the people are ignorant about this condition hence he advocated health education in sensitizing and enhancing the level of awareness of mothers, fathers and members of the community in general about the importance of knowing their blood groups and rhesus factor.

Idris who spoke through the Director for Family health and Nutrition, Dr. Monsurat Oyekan  explained that as part of efforts to check the effect of the condition, the state government would be providing Anti Rhesus D Injection or RhoGam, at a subsidized rate in the state.

Continuing, the Commissioner opined that even though there are no known data on rhesus incompatibility in the state, an estimate of one out of every 150 pregnancies is affected by this condition adding that this portends serious implication for the State due to the high population of about four million women of child bearing age.

His words, “This incompatibility results in antibodies from the mother’s rhesus negative blood destroying a rhesus positive baby’s red blood cells on contact. Where the rhesus factor of the mother is negative and the foetus is positive, problems can occur if the foetus’ positive blood manages to find its way into the mother’s bloodstream, either during pregnancy or labour, mixing with her negative blood”

In her views, the President and Initiator of Rhesus Solutions Initiative, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Banire noted that procreation should be a source of joy for every woman regretting that the tragedy is that many women and children die during this normal, life_enhancing process resulting from rhesus incompatibility.

Banire disclosed that there would be free screening of Rhesus factor and blood group during the official launch of the programme.

“We will also be giving out RhoGAM injection free of charge. Maternal and pre_natal health has emerged as the most important issues that determine global and national well-being.  This is because every individual, family and community is at some point intimately involved in pregnancy and the success of childbirth.  The death of a mother not only affects her immediate family but also the socio_economy of her community,”

Rhesus Incompatibility is a blood incompatibility disorder where the mother’s blood type is not compatible with the foetus. This incompatibility results in antibodies from the mother’s rhesus negative blood destroying a rhesus positive bay’s red blood cells on contact.

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