By Joseph Erunke – Abuja
The federal government has said a total of 19,676 units of blood were issued to various hospitals across the country for transfusion purpose last year.
This according to the government, were part of the 24,483 units of blood collected and screened from volunteer donors through the 17 centres of the National Blood Transfusion Service, NBTS, of the Federal Ministry of Health.
The revelation came as government said it was putting all necessary mechanism in place to raise the bar in blood donations with a view to meeting the requirement of the country.
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire,in a statement to commemorate the 2020 World Blood Donor Day, marked every June 14, also said his ministry was “currently considering proposals for a major investment, from public and private sectors, to upgrade the capacity of the National Blood Transfusion Service to enable it achieve its potential to produce blood components and plasma derived medicinal products at a commercial scale, that meets international best standards and to enter the world market.”
This, he explained, “ensures optimal utilization of each unit of whole blood collected.”
Hear him: ”In 2019, about 24,483 units of blood were collected and screened from volunteer blood donors through the 17 centres of NBTS network, while 19,676 units of blood were issued to various hospitals nationwide for transfusion purposes.
“The National Blood Transfusion service wishes to increase its scope of work, by scaling up its annual blood collection rate and sustaining ongoing efforts to expand the reach of its services.”
Ehanire said “the legislative process of the Bill for the establishment of a National Blood Service Commission is at an advanced stage and awaiting public hearing at the National Assembly.”
Noting that blood was also key at most complex surgical operations,he regretted that:” However, access to safe blood is still the privilege of not many people in the world.”
He said: “Most low-and middle-income countries struggle to make safe blood available to their citizens, because the quantity of blood donation is insufficient and the standardized equipment for testing blood is expensive and scarce.
“Globally, 42% of blood collection and use is in high income countries, who constitute just 16% of global population.
“Blood donation is therefore needed all over the world to assure individuals and communities of access to safe and quality-assured blood and blood products whenever the need arises.”
According to him, ”During this COVID-19 pandemic, the supply of safe blood is at risk, because regular blood donation drives have had to be postponed or deferred, and regulations for self-isolation, lockdown and fear of infection have hindered the usual blood donors from accessing blood donation centers.”
“Transport and trade restrictions have also led to disruptions of global supply chains, putting countries at risk of shortages of critical supplies and equipment used for blood donation, processing, testing and transfusion, to patients in need of blood,” he added.
The minister who noted that, ”Our population of over 200 million, Nigeria’s estimated blood need is about 2 million units per year”,however, said: “Unfortunately, much less than that is currently collected, leaving unmet needs that lead to avoidable deaths, morbidities and ill-health.”
While appealing to Nigerians to change the trend,he said: ”In line with its mandate, Nigeria’s National Blood Transfusion Service strives to provide adequate supplies of safe blood, screened with modern fully-automated enzyme linked immune-sorbent assay (ELISA) technology.”
The statement read further: ”The National Blood Transfusion service wishes to increase its scope of work, by scaling up its annual blood collection rate and sustaining ongoing efforts to expand the reach of its services.
“I am pleased to announce that the legislative process of the Bill for the establishment of a National Blood Service Commission is at an advanced stage and awaiting public hearing at the National Assembly.
He called “on people of goodwill all over the world and here at home in Nigeria, to become life-savers by volunteering to join the people who regularly donate blood to make safe blood available to everyone in need of it.”
“Your involvement and support will help to ensure greater impact for World Blood Donor Day, increase the worldwide realization that giving blood is an act of solidarity and service to mankind and that services providing safe blood and blood products are an essential element of respectable health care systems,”he said.
Recall that the World Blood Donor Day; a day set aside each year on the 14th of June, to recognize and thank blood donors worldwide and especially here in Nigeria, as well as to raise awareness among citizens on the global need for, and importance of, safe blood.
The theme for this year’s World Blood Donor Day campaign is “Safe Blood Saves Lives”.
The slogan “Give blood and make the world a healthier place” has been adopted to focus on the notion that blood is life and that donors give the gift of life to others.