Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said that Nigeria’s estimated blood need is about 1.8 million units of blood per annum.

Adewole revealed this Thursday at a press briefing to celebrate the 2018 World Blood Donor Day with the theme of this year’s campaign, “Blood donation as an act of solidarity” while the slogan is “Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life.”

The theme highlights fundamental human values of altruism, respect, empathy and kindness which is the pivot for voluntary unpaid blood donation systems.

The Minister, however, said, “Nevertheless, we must not overlook the challenge of transmission of serious infections, including HIV and hepatitis, through unsafe blood and chronic blood shortages which has attracted global attention.”

He said that national data indicated that voluntary non-remunerated blood donation accounts for only 10 percent of our total blood collection while family replacement donations, as well as commercial donations, account for 30 and 60 percent respectively.

He said that the event provides the opportunity to express gratitude to voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood as well as to raise awareness on the need for unceasing blood donations.

He said, “Permit me to point out that the transfusion of blood and blood products has been of tremendous help in saving millions of lives. In fact, it supports complex medical and surgical procedures.

“In addition to this, it plays essential, life-saving roles in maternal and child care as well as during the emergency response to man-made or natural disasters.

“Let me add that a number of patients requiring blood transfusion still do not have timely access to safe blood. Consequently, we can only ensure adequate supplies of blood through regular donations by voluntary, unpaid blood donors who are usually motivated by self-sacrifice, a sense of moral duty or social responsibility.”

He further stated, “In order to address current gap as well as strengthen the capacity of the National Blood Transmission Service, we are in the process of concluding the regularisation of appointments of core technical staff that were previously engaged on the programme while it was funded by the donor.

“This we believe will ensure that relevant skill sets are available to optimise service delivery. I will also like to announce that an Executive Bill for the establishment of a National Blood Service Commission was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council.

“This bill when enacted into law will serve to consolidate on the gains made in the last 13 years and take the National Blood Service from its current status to the next level, in line with international best practices.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Wondi Alemu, WHO Country Representative, said the agency would continue to support initiatives to ensure the availability of safe blood and blood products.

Dr. Alemu who was represented at the briefing by Dr. Hamzat Omotayo of National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) said there was a gap about 500,000 blood units annually to meet the blood needs of Nigeria considering the population size.

“Therefore more needs to done to increase voluntary blood donation and reporting of blood collection from all health facilities engaged in blood transfusion services,” he added.

Similarly, Dr. Saliu Idris, the Country Director, Save Blood for Africa Foundation, said approximately, one million people have donated blood from 2004 to date.

He said that blood that saves lives should be available in the hospitals before an emergency.

Also, the highest blood donor, Nathan John, said he has donated blood 55 times and will still donate because it helps him to live a cautioned life.

He said, “I started donating blood when I was 23, and I am 36 now. I have been donating for 13 years now.”

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