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By Emmanuel Elebeke

Experts committee has developed a National Standard for blood establishment and safety regulations in Nigeria.

The Committee announced the new standard after a 5-days rigorous meeting of expert for the first of its kind in Nigeria organised by the National Blood Transfusion Service in Abuja.

Speaking on the new standard, the National Coordinator, Dr. Omale Joseph Amedu said the new standard is expected to ensure the provision of safe, quality and accessible blood and blood products for transfusion to patients that may need them in Nigeria, as there is an urgent need for a uniform regulatory standard in the country.

Consequently, he explained that all Blood Establishments in Nigeria within the federal health institutions, state-owned health institutions, private health institutions, non-governmental health institutions and interested persons that will provide blood services in the country will be guided by these standards, which should be complied with.

He stated that the national standard document is in consonance with the Act and other laws guiding Blood Safety, quality and haemovigilance as well as being in line with the Nigerian National Strategic Health Development plan ii.

‘‘In as much as Blood is Life, Blood can equally be a very dangerous and harzardous product to the body as unsafe blood kills. The expert committee consists of all national health regulatory bodies, health professionals associations, and Civil Society , who have come to share their expert best practice standards to guide the regulation of Blood Establishment to provide safe quality blood and blood products in the country.’’

According to Coordinator, the existing laws in providing these uniform standards for Nigeria guided the Expert Committee all through the seating. These include: the National Health Act, 2014; the National Blood Service Commission Act that is awaiting Presidential assent and other international best practice standards.

On this committee are all health regulatory agencies such as NAFDAC, MDCN, MLSCN, PCN, as well as health professional association such as NMA, Haematology Blood Transfusion Scientists Society of Nigeria ( NBTSSN), Nigerian Society of Haematology and Blood Transfusion (NSHBT), AMLSCN, Pharmacists and Civil Society .

The WHO and SBFAF were also brought in to review the team to ensure that a best practice standard is put in place for implementation.

While, calling for urgent attention to the National Blood Service Commission Act that is awaiting for Presidential assent, Amedu also urged all Medical practitioners, health and allied professionals as well as other business entities that are interested in establishing Blood Services in Nigeria, to ensure compliance to these regulatory standards.

This, he said will be the only way to guarantee the provision of safe, quality and accessible blood and blood products to all patients that may need them in Nigeria.

Also speaking on the new standard, the President, Nigerian Society for Primatology and Blood Transfusion, NSPBT and Chair of the experts Committee, Prof. Aisha Kuliy- Gwarze said the meeting brainstormed and used international best practices to develop the guidelines and standard for minimum blood safety in terms of quality, donor care in terms of blood management, processing and provision of blood components.

She pointed out that the guideline does not mean people cannot surpass the stipulated standard as the standard is only the minimum level that will not be exceeded.

‘‘Using the minimum guideline, we hope that blood will be very safe, though in some instances, blood transfusion is safe but at time it may involve risks. If we have safety standards, which address donor recruitment, in terms of screening such the donors from transmissible diseases, making it very safe, using high standard of screening and providing compatibility testing that is adequate enough to prevent aloe immunization

‘‘For us, Nigeria has reached a point, where medical therapists are improving, and there are so many therapists that do require blood transfusion and without this, we may not make significant progress in terms of specialised medical care.

‘‘Nigeria usually uses blood for supporting maternal haemorrhage, haemoglobin preface, under 5 malaria, trauma among others. Recently, we have seen a rise in renal transplant and dialyses and bone marrow transplant.

This depends significantly on blood transfusion; we then provide guidelines and safety for accessibility of such commodity to those that require it.

On compliance, Prof. Gwarze said, ‘‘NBTS is the main body that should regulate and implement the policies developed. With the policies, all concerned will key in and use such standards to seek accreditation at various levels and these standards should be adhered to after implementation.

‘‘We have done it to the extent that the type of deferer will be known and for how long the deferer should be for prospective blood donors that be deferred. We have to do this because what we have as we speak is people on the field doing what they think are the best, using their own scheme and level of concept. But we have provided now, the document that defined the minimum below which any operator will be found liable and can face the full wrought of the law.

On his part, the CEO and National Leader of Voluntary Blood Donors Club of Nigeria, Obeta Uchejeso said the new standard will not only bring sanity to the system but bridge the existing blood gap in the country.

‘‘This is the first time stakeholders in blood safety are calling blood donors to be part of it, for contribution. Numerous bloods being donated are done by voluntary blood donors.

‘‘I call on all blood donors across the nation, all blood donor organizations that the vibrancy of the NBTF is giving to blood safety in Nigeria now needs to be supported by voluntary blood donor organizations and blood donors.’’

He also called on international agencies to come and support Nigeria in terms of blood safety so that we can move forward as a country.

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