By: Chioma Umeha
An estimated 92 million blood donations are recorded yearly, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
By 2020, WHO’s target is for all countries to obtain 100 per cent of its blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donations. However, voluntary unpaid donations currently account for 100 per cent of national supplies in only 62 countries around the world. Experts have therefore canvassed for increase in voluntary blood transfusion to that the global target is met. They are worried that voluntary blood transfusion is low at a time when many nations of the world, including, Nigeria is struggling to ensure reduction in maternal and infant mortality rates. This is because studies have shown that the largest users of blood each year are the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G). Confirming this was the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who noting that the largest users of blood each year are the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G), attributed this to haemorrage (bleeding), which is the major cause of maternal mortality.
Idris who spoke during a press briefing at the Ministry of Health, during a media parley ahead of this year’s World Blood Donor Day, therefore insisted that safe blood needs to be available in adequate quantity for obstetric emergencies for the reduction of maternal mortality in the state. “,” the Lagos Health Ministry boss said. He urged every Lagos citizen to become regular voluntary donors and an advocate of voluntary blood donation. His words: “Only approximately eight per cent of all the blood transfused is from voluntary donations. This is a far cry from the 100 per cent target set by WHO for the whole world to achieve by 2020.” His statement further read: “The next steps; you will note that if this is to be achieved all of us have a role to play. The role is to be regular voluntary donors and also spread the word and ‘recruit’ voluntary donors who will also emulate you and be regular donors.”
The Commissioner added that individuals can partner with the state to boost voluntary blood transfusion through celebrating landmarks like birthdays, wedding anniversaries among others by donating their blood. He also said that organizations can partner with the state to provide voluntary donors. He called for individual sponsorship donor drive, and other activities aimed at increasing the voluntary donor base, observing that the list of possibilities is endless. According to him, increasing the voluntary donor base has become pertinent as medical emergencies requiring blood transfusion often don’t give any warning. Instances he said are; ‘a woman in labour, a road traffic accident victim, victims of collapsed buildings, gunshot wounds, among others.’ However, he said that there is growing response to voluntary blood donation in the state as the figure of donors rose from 474 in 2006 to 2159 in 2012, even as it has recorded 1780 donor since this year started. The Commissioner further noted that there are more male donors, with majority of them within the ages of 18 and 45. His words: “There is generally a steady increase in the response of the people of Lagos State to voluntary blood donation from 2006 when we had 474 to 2012 where we had 2159. From January this year to June 10, we have had 1780 so far. Also, there are more male donors and the majority fall within the ages of 18 and 45 years.”
Also, the Chairman of the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Committee (LSBTC) Dr. Adetoun Agbe-Davies has reiterated the state ministry of health commitment to protect the identity of donors as well as ensure that they have appropriate health care. Agbe-Davies who spoke at this year’s World Blood Donor Day which held at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry Hall, Ikeja, said, “Our voluntary donors are handled with respect, confidentiality and care. Those that need further care are referred.” Elaborating on the state ministry of health role to provide incentives and good health care to voluntary donors, the LSBTC boss said: “Recently, the Ministry of Health approved pre-packed haematinics (blood tonic tablets) to be given to voluntary donors who are found not to be eligible on account of mild aneamia after due counseling on diet etc. This is to appreciate them and encourage them to come back to donate when they have improved.” He further observed that all units of blood collected are screened using the WHO recommended standards for HIV 1&2, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphillis at our screening centres.
Regular monitoring visits are paid to public and private blood banks to ensure high standards of practice. Agbe-Davies also noted that the this year’s World Blood Donor Day is tenth in the series was marked with essay competition which was held with the assistance of the Lagos State Ministry of Education among Senior Secondary School students on the topic: “Blood Saves Lives. Safe Blood Starts With Me”. “A special feature of this year’s 10th anniversary celebration is the essay competition which was held with the assistance of the Lagos State Ministry of Education among Senior Secondary School students on the topic: “Blood Saves Lives. Safe Blood Starts With Me”. It is obvious that the students researched the topic in depth from their submissions. It is hoped that the experience and the knowledge gained will influence them to be voluntary donors from age 18 years,” he said. The first three winners received their personal prizes, while their schools were presented with plaques. Each of the first 60 students will receive a certificate of participation.
Mrs. Dame Abimbola Fashola, First Lady, Lagos state, during the occasion recalled that LSBTC was established in recognition of the critical issues of blood donation and its transfusion in the state. Mrs. Fashola said that the committee has the responsibility to ensure that state is “A State where only safe blood is transfused in all appropriate health facilities.” She therefore called for regular voluntary donors, insisting that blood donation as a gift that saves lives. A major highlight of the event was the testimony session of donors and recipients.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on June 20, 2013.