On many occasions, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has stressed the need for constant voluntary blood donation to save lives and contribute to healthy and reliable blood supply system.
The organisation, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have similarly developed a global framework for action to boost voluntary blood donation across the world.
WHO said the framework was designed to provide guidance and support to countries seeking to establish effective voluntary blood donor programmes, phase out family/replacement blood donation and eliminate paid donation.
“The vision embodied in this framework is the achievement of 100 percent voluntary non-remunerated blood donation in every country of the world. It is based on the recognition that voluntary non-remunerated blood donors are the foundation of a safe and sustainable blood supply,’’ the organisation observed.
The organisation’s framework on boosting blood donation notwithstanding, analysts insist that there is no adequate supply of safe blood and blood services, particularly in Nigeria and other developing nations.
They, therefore, called on stakeholders to raise awareness on the need to donate blood voluntarily as the world celebrates another edition of the World Donor Day.
Every June 14, the world celebrates the day; bringing to the fore the importance of blood donation and appreciating those people that donate blood to those that need it. Analysts observed that awareness campaign during previous observances of the day has improved the level of blood donation.
Highlighting the importance of the theme of the day: “Blood connects us all’’, they insisted that blood transfusion helps patients suffering from variety of life-threatening health conditions and stimulates them to live a longer quality life.
According to them, the theme highlights stories of people, whose lives have been saved through blood donation, thanking blood donors for their gift of life and encouraging people to care for one another.
However, a public health physician, Dr Baba Ahmed, who works with the National Blood Transfusion Service, NBTS, Abuja, said adequate blood supply could only be assured through regular donations by voluntary unpaid donors.
According to him, only 62 countries have national blood supplies based on close to 100 percent voluntary unpaid blood donations, the remaining countries continue to depend on family and paid donors.
Ahmed said “blood is a medium for the management of health situations and for the treatment of medical illnesses and there is no real product that can replace it. You can’t give goat blood to human beings and when people require blood, it must be from a healthy person.’’
Ahmed, however, called for voluntary blood donation, saying its loss contributed to 38 percent maternal and child mortality in Nigeria.
“There may be some situations that the mother or the new baby will require transfusion and if there is no blood, it can lead to death. In pregnancy, a woman is predisposed to certain medical conditions and she might require blood therapy. So it needs to be made available, but the problem is that we practise emergency blood medicine; it is at emergency situations that we look for blood. Such practice affects maternal and child health,’’ he said.
Sharing a similar view, the President, Association of Resident Doctors, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja, Dr Abdulsalam Moruf, said blood donation would benefit patients and the donors in many ways.
“When you give blood, it also serves as a way of doing check up, because blood donation requires tests including blood pressure, hepatitis, HIV and other ailments. Also, people who donate blood reduce excess iron in the body which predisposes one to cardiovascular diseases. Donation itself acts as a form of exercise, because if one pint is collected, one will be losing about 650 calories,’’ he said.
To encourage blood donation, he said no fewer than 50 doctors donated blood at LASUTH for those in need. “The donation was part of programmes lined up for the Annual General Meeting of the association during which 50 pints of blood were donated by the doctors,’’ he said.
Moruf reiterated that the exercise was a way of encouraging people to voluntarily donate blood to those in need. “As leaders of the profession, we will take the lead, not only in treating our patients, but also in donating blood to them,’’ Moruf said.
Similarly, a volunteer blood donor, Dr Jimi Shodipo, said blood donation was a way of giving back to the society and saving lives. He said there is shortage of blood in the country, adding that blood donation is a way of bridging the gap.
Shodipo said many people have not cultivated the culture of donating blood due to beliefs that it would affect their health.
“This is why doctors have volunteered to donate blood. It also demystifies the notion that giving blood will make us ill. We also want to discourage commercial blood donation were people will get paid,’’ he said.
But Dr Omo Izedonmwen, National Coordinator, NBTS, Abuja, said the organisation had not been adequately funded since the withdrawal of international donors.
He, therefore, solicited for more funding from stakeholders to enable the centre meet its target. “Most of our equipment are obsolete and they need change; most of them do not have long life span,’’ he said.
Izedonmwen said NBTS needs more financial and technical aid to expand its activities by engaging more workers in its strategic drive to transform blood transfusion in Nigeria.
He identified cultural barriers and public myths as some of the factors militating against blood donation in Nigeria, saying “there is no alternative to blood.’’
The coordinator tasked the media to play its primary role of sensitising the public to the importance of voluntary blood donation.
“We have achieved a lot, but we are yet to be were we ought to be; on a daily basis, two or more persons come to donate blood; we are gradually getting there,’’ he said.
All the same, stakeholders insist that blood donation saves lives and continues to enliven the theme of the day, “Blood connects us all’’ in the minds of Nigerians. (NANFeatures)

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