2023 Blood Donor Day: Nigeria in shortfall of 1.7m pints of blood annually

2023 Blood Donor Day: Nigeria in shortfall of 1.7m pints of blood annually

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate 2023 World Blood Donor Day, today, Haima Health Initiative, says Nigeria is in shortfall of 1.7 million pints of blood annually. This was made known in a statement by the founder of the organization, Bukola Bolarinwa. 

The theme for 2023 World Blood Donor Day campaign is ‘Give blood, give plasma, share life, share often’.

The statement reads in part, “Every year, June 14th is globally recognised as World Blood Donor Day, to highlight the importance of blood donation in medical care and appreciate non-paid donors for their selfless gifts. 

Officially designated as an annual event by the World Health Assembly in 2005, the World Health Organisation, WHO, slogan for 2023 World Blood Donor Day campaign is ‘Give blood, give plasma, share life, share often’. 

“According to the WHO, it focuses on patients requiring life-long transfusion support and underlines the role every single person can play, by giving the valuable gift of blood or plasma. 

“It also highlights the importance of voluntarily giving blood or plasma regularly to create a safe and sustainable supply of blood and blood products that can be always available, all over the world, so that all patients in need can receive timely treatment.

“In Nigeria, the day is marked by programmes and advocacy by the National Blood Service Commission (NBSC), the Lagos Blood Transfusion Committee (LSBTC), health organisations, CSOs and NGOs working to improve safe blood access. Blood cannot be manufactured in a lab.

“There are currently no medical alternatives to blood donations for patients in need. These include women in labour, neonates, surgeries, diseases like sickle cell anaemia, cancer and leukaemia. 

“Most urgently, blood is required for accidents and emergencies as witnessed following the recent train accident in Lagos, where dozens of blood donors were needed to help victims.

“Despite its importance to sustaining life, most Nigerians do not voluntarily donate blood. Unfortunately, the Nigeria’s National Blood Transfusion Service, NBTC collects only 500,000 pints of blood every year with a shortfall of about 73%-over1.7million pints of blood. This is despite a population of approximately 200 million.”

According to the statement, “Most Nigerians can give blood if they are healthy, weigh between 50kg and 158kg, are aged between 18 and 66 (or 70 if you have given blood before). Most men can give blood four times a year while women three times a year. Donating blood has many benefits for young people, including burning calories, lowering the risk of cancer and maintaining heart health.

“Voluntary donors are safer and more reliable than people who are paid or coerced into blood donation. However, voluntary donors remain critically low. 

However, a recent survey by blood donation CSO Haima Health highlighted some reasons for low donor number.

“The key factors that prevent regular blood donation include lack of time (36%), health issues, no information on where and when blood is needed, distance from donor centres coupled with transport challenges. 

“A major deterrent is limited trust in the healthcare system, with several respondents concerned that they give blood freely, but it is then sold to patients.

“To solve these complex challenges, Nigeria must invest in improving the knowledge and importance of voluntary blood donation from a young age.

“World Blood Donor Day serves as an opportunity to appreciate those blood donors who are already regularly giving their lifesaving gift of blood and sustaining the lives of patients”, the statement said. 

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