BY AISHAT ABISOLA
WHEN I think of Nigeria’s health sector, many things come to mind that are necessary at all costs. Some of these are appropriate funding, updated medical equipment and reduced brain drain which is the cause and effect of medical tourism.
However, I have noticed that one major amenity is missing. I am unsure if many people will realise that the most important amenity that we lack in the health sector is something that is in us from when we are born till after we die.
What we lack is blood. To be more precise, what we lack is an adequate supply of donated blood.
In the human body, aside from the air which we breathe in and need to live, blood is one of the most important components that keep our internal systems running regardless of anything.
A severe loss of blood is deadly and usually causes the body to react negatively in many ways, some of which are either a “hemorrhage” or “hypovolemic shock”.
A hemorrhage, or blood loss, refers to either internal or external bleeding as it can occur anywhere in the body.
External bleeding occurs outside of the body (cuts, scrapes, etc), while internal bleeding occurs as a result of damage to the internal organs, causing them to bleed. An example would be abdomen, chest, and diaphragm wounds as a result of a gunshot. Hypovolemic shock is an emergency condition where a severe loss of blood or internal fluids makes the heart unable to pump enough blood for the body to function. This type of shock is dangerous enough to cause multiple organs in the body to shut down.
The most common cause of this form of shock is when a vital blood vessel bursts or if a person gets injured enough for their body to shut down.
Symptoms of hypovolemic shock are anxiety, confusion, pale skin, rapid breathing, sweating, and cold skin.
It can be cured if the injured individual receives blood or fluids through an intravenous, IV, line.
Now that I have mentioned some of the effects that blood loss can create, it would best to ask why we do not have enough of this amenity.
Despite numerous campaigns by several organisations, why aren’t citizens stepping up to help their fellow countrymen who need blood transfusions, especially if their family members don’t have the same blood type?
Why is it that citizens are not being offered incentives for donating blood? Why are they constantly being asked to donate blood for free by the people in power, by those who probably do not even donate blood without it being a publicity stunt, without being offered anything?
Furthermore, why is it that despite all the attention that is being brought to this time and time again, this matter fades into obscurity before resurfacing few months later as if it is an unwanted cousin that no one wants to see except at family reunions? How is it possible?
To answer my first question, unfortunately, it is a normal human reaction to see and ignore something that concerns and troubles one or more citizens in your country.
No matter what foreign and local organisations do (campaigns, projects, etc.), there will still be a group of people who see something and decide that it is not their problem even though they could very well end up needing a blood transfusion in a country where there is a lack of it.
These people need to take a proper look at their priorities and be given a large dose of reality.
As for my second question, I believe that incentives need to be provided to entice more people into getting their blood screened and donated to those who need it. The maximum and minimum amounts of blood donated are 500ml and 350 ml. If incentives are to be provided, assuming the donor is at an appropriate weight level, the price could be situated at N1,500 or N2,000 per 50ml. That way, the blood donor will receive an incentive that will be sufficient payment for their services and it will also encourage more people to come and donate blood if they know that they will be compensated fairly for it.
The last thing that I want to mention is how the topic of blood donation is brought up time and time again but fails to make a lasting impact.
What I have said so far can paint an image as to why but, to be more succinct, there is no compensation or incentive provided for blood donation nor are there many citizens who will bother to take a look at the issue and volunteer.
I believe that the reason why the matter at hand fails to make a long-lasting impact is that popular celebrities, politicians, and individuals in power are not making a splash about it.
If the citizens of Nigeria were to see their favourite celebrities, well-known politicians, and the like donating blood, the situation would have a complete turn-around. There would not even be an issue concerning blood donation.
My appeal to those reading this is: if you can, visit your nearest hospital and ask if they need blood donation.
You would not only be helping them reduce the burden of looking for someone or waiting for a blood donation campaign, but you would also be saving the lives of three people with just one donation.
Ms Abisola, a member of the Society for Health Communication, wrote from
Wuye District, Abuja, via: [email protected]