Nigeria gets only 5% of blood units collected annually from voluntary donors –NBTS

Angela Onwuzoo

The National Coordinator, National Blood Transfusion Services, Dr. Joseph Amedu, says out of about 500,000 blood units collected in Nigeria annually, only five percent are from voluntary donors.

Amedu stated this on Monday during the PUNCH Media Foundation webinar series.

The webinar was organised in commemoration of the 2021 World Blood Donor Day.

Amedu stated that 95 percent of the blood sourced from paid commercial and family replacement donors is what we have in Nigeria.

The webinar with the theme, ‘Why Nigeria needs more free blood donors’, was aimed at creating awareness on blood donation.

It is also to stimulate greater public interest in voluntary blood donation.

World Blood Donor Day takes place on 14 June each year. The day aims to raise global awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion, as well as the critical contribution voluntary, unpaid blood donors make to national health systems.

The 2021 World Blood Donor Day is themed: Give blood and keep the world beating.

In his presentation, the national coordinator, said, “Blood is life. Blood transfusions are critical for healthcare as they are instrumental to life-saving interventions in accidents, childbirth, various emergency situations resulting from insurgencies, wars, herds-farmer clashes, routine surgeries, sickle cell disease, cancer and various anaemic medical conditions.

“Nigeria has a blood need of approximately two million units based on a population of about 200 million.

“But just about half a million blood units are currently collected in Nigeria annually and only five percent are from voluntary blood donors. 

“Blood transfusion is important. 95 percent of the blood sourced from paid commercial and family replacement donors is what we have in Nigeria.

“And because blood transfusion is a known risk factor for the transmission of infectious disease including viral infections, it is important for us to be aware of the source of the blood we get.

“The risk of blood transfusion is increased by blood procured from commercial donors who largely belong to high-risk groups because they undergo unsafe practices such homosexuals, those injecting drugs.”

Continuing, he noted, “And because we are not sure of the lifestyle of people that donate blood, we view commercial blood donation as very unsafe for transfusion.

“Increasing voluntary blood donor base in Nigeria is therefore critical to ensuring availability and accessibility of safe blood in Nigeria.”

Amedu urged the youths and other Nigerians to freely donate blood.

According to him, safe blood saves lives, that the only way to get safe blood is through voluntary donors.

He also enjoined the government to put in place a system and structure that would help increase the collection of blood from voluntary donors.

Also speaking at the webinar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the International Society of Media in Public Health, Moji Makanjuola, said the media must encourage a national discourse around voluntary blood donation to beat the myth around it.

Setting an agenda on voluntary blood donation, she said, was very critical in Nigeria to reduce the numbers of commercial blood donors.

According to her, there is a desperation to get people to donate blood because “We don’t have enough at any given time.”

“It is important for people to come out and donate blood freely. But a lot of them are skeptical about it. Some say they don’t have enough. The fear and myth around blood donation are what the media need to address. The media should let people know that it is safe for them to donate blood even when it is not an emergency”, Makanjuola said.

She emphasised that awareness campaigns should address the phobia that people have about blood donation.

“The media can position voluntary blood donation as a subject for public conversation and have legislative engagement. The media is in a position to beat the myth around voluntary blood donation,” she noted.

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