As Nigeria marked the 2016 World Blood Donor Day, WBDD, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has said that the National Blood Transfusion Service, NBTS, last year collected up to 60,385 units of blood from voluntary donors and issued 45,394 units for transfusion in hospitals across the country.
Ehanire disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at a press briefing to commemorate the day.
He said, “The National Blood Transfusion Service in line with its mandate strives to provide adequate supplies of safe blood screened using semi-automated EIA technology.
“In 2015, up to 60,385 units of blood were collected from voluntary blood donors through the NBTS network of 17 centres while 45,394 units of blood were issued for blood transfusion purposes in various hospitals nationwide.
“To meet the ever increasing need for safe blood in Nigeria, the present estimated blood need of about 1.7 million units per annum, described as one percent of Nigeria’s population in WHO prescription, needs to be juxtaposed with the current burden of sickle cell disease, which is estimated to be around 3.5 million cases, making the actual blood requirement for Nigeria greater than the estimated 1.7 million units per annum.
“While the demand for blood is growing in the developed world with longevity and increasingly sophisticated clinical procedures, national blood supplies are not sufficient to meet existing requirements in developing countries. Evidence-based strategies for blood safety and availability have been successfully implemented in most developed countries and some transitional and developing nations.”
The minister noted that voluntary blood donation makes people care for each other and promotes community cohesion, adding that supply of safe blood could be assured by “a stable pool of regular, voluntary, unpaid donors who are also the safest group of donors, since the prevalence of blood-borne infections is generally lowest among them.”
He therefore called for creation of a strong base of voluntary blood donors by healthy committed youths and adults who consistently give blood to ensure adequate supplies of safe blood throughout the year.
This year’s World Blood Donor Day themed ‘Blood Connects Us All’ “focuses on recognising blood donors and highlighting the dimension of sharing and connection between blood donors and patients,” Ehanire said, emphasising that voluntary blood donation make people to care for one another and promotes community cohesion.
“Blood transfusion plays an essential role in the provision of emergency health care, particularly women who are victims of post-partum hemorrhage, children suffering from severe anaemia due to malaria and malnutrition, victims of trauma, road traffic accidents and patients who suffer from cancer and sickle cell anaemia,” he added.
About 108 million units of donated blood are collected globally every year, nearly 50 percent of which are collected in high-income countries, which are home to less than 20 percent of the world’s population.
Acting permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr Wapada Balami said that the WBDD is celebrated annually to raise awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products, and to appreciate blood donors for their voluntary life-saving gift of blood.
“The celebration brings to the fore relationships between blood donors and patients, and draws attention to the role that voluntary blood donation systems play in encouraging people to care for one another and promote community cohesion and a healthier society,” Balami said
The World Health Organisation, WHO, country representative for Nigeria, Dr. Rui Vaz noted that, “In the African Region from 2013 to 2016, blood donations rose from about 3.9 million units to 4.4 million, that is, 11.4 percent of increase, but this still covers only 50 percent of the annual requirement of blood.
He further said that continued creation of awareness for blood donation and celebration of those who donate blood freely needed to be done on regular basis.
Meanwhile, the national coordinator of NBTS, Mrs Oluwatoyin Smith has said that the NBTS needed an upward of $5million to survive yearly.
This she said, as usual, would aid blood drives being conducted through the NBTS network, recruiting voluntary blood donors, testing the blood units that had been collected and ensuring that safe blood were being supplied to hospitals around the country.
Furthermore, the highest voluntary blood donor in Nigeria, Mr. Nathan John, who said that he had donated blood 48 times, urged youths to come out to donate blood regularly to save more lives.

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