The Coordinator, National Blood Transfusion Centre (NBTS), Abuja Centre, Dr Omo Izedonmwen, on Sunday in Abuja advocated for a legislative framework to regulate blood safety activities in the country.
Izedonmwen, made this call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in commemoration of the World Blood Donor Day, celebrated every June 14, to raise more awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products.
He said the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) method of estimating blood needed in a country stipulated that one per cent of total population should donate regularly.
He said that it meant that Nigeria needed about two million units per annum.
He, however, noted that with the sickle cell disease burden in the country, Nigeria needed an approximate of 3.5 million blood units per annum.
The coordinator, further explained that the absence of a legislative framework to regulate all blood safety activities had made it difficult for the NBTS to collate data that would ascertain the total number of blood units needed to serve the country.
“When we have such framework, our hospitals, blood banks, laboratories and all other participants/stakeholders in the blood safety field will be mandated to report their activities.
“Thus, data on blood safety can easily be collated and analysed for effective planning at the national level,” he said.
He further revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic had not reduced the need for blood donation as there were people that still needed blood transfusion due to other ailments, accidents and others.
“Regardless of the cause of the pandemic or endemic, there may be additional need for blood donation as the traditional causes of blood transfusion.
“Such include Postpartum hemorrhage, road traffic crashes, treatment of cancers and others.
“During such crises blood needs do not abate, hence there is always a need to sustain the blood donations,” he said.
According to him, most Nigerian donors are either commercial donors or family replacement donors.
He, however, said that the NBTS received from Voluntary Non-Remunerated Blood Donors (VNRBD), that is, those who donate blood simply for altruistic reasons because they are the safest, according to WHO regulations.
Izedonmwen said the challenges facing blood services were multifaceted, but most of them could be resolved with increased funding and ownership by the government at all levels.
He mentioned also instituting proper legislative framework and governance for blood safety in the country.
The coordinator, said that the response from Nigerians had been encouraging in spite of the current environment of distrust, insufficient information, and education regarding blood donation.
“The gap is not in the response of Nigerians but in the amount of information that is at their disposal as most Nigerians still get inadequate and, sometimes, outrightly wrong information and education about blood donation.
“When given the right information, their responses have been amazing,” he added.
He, therefore urged the media and other relevant stakeholders to continue to educate the public through campaigns and enlightenment to change the narrative as regards the myths surrounding blood donations.
The theme for the 2020 World Blood Donor Day celebration is: “Safe Blood Safe Lives” which would be promoted with the slogan “Give blood and make the world a healthier place.” (NAN)