WHO Worries Over Acute Blood Shortage In Nigeria, Other Low-Income Countries



The World Health Organisation (WHO) has decried acute blood shortage in Nigeria and other middle and low-income countries, even as it gives conditions that must be met before blood donation can be made by anybody

The organization has said that there should be mandatory screening for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV), hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis before any blood donation.

The slogan for this year’s commemoration is “Donating blood is an act of solidarity: Join the effort and save lives.” The WBDD is aimed at raising global awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion.

WHO, in a statement, issued on Monday, said national blood system should be governed by a policy and legislative framework to promote the uniform implementation of standards and consistency in the quality and safety of blood and blood products.

According to the organization, safe blood is essential for helping people of all ages who suffer from diseases, disasters and accidents. Donation saves lives and makes our community safe.

It stated that blood is always needed to save lives and treat people, and because of this we should show solidarity to the community and contribute with regular blood donations, stating further that the need for blood is universal, but access to blood for all those who need it is not. “Blood shortages are acute in low- and middle-income countries. In low- and middle-income countries, women and children are most affected by shortages as they are the ones who need blood most.”

“To ensure that everyone who needs transfusion has access to safe blood, all countries need voluntary, unpaid blood donors who give blood regularly.

Giving blood, it stated is a life-saving act of solidarity with others. Services providing safe blood and blood products are essential for every health care system.”

WHO recommends that all blood donations should be screened for infections prior to use. “Screening for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and syphilis should be mandatory. Blood screening should be performed according to quality system requirements. Of reporting countries, 10 are not able to screen all donated blood for one or more of the above infections,” it noted.

Recall that there had been a passionate appeal for willing donors to submit blood in the wake of the terrorist attack on St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State on June 5, which killed about 40 persons and left some 80 others injured.

President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Uche Ojinmah, had called on Nigerians in the affected area to visit the hospitals where the injured were being treated to donate blood to save the lives injured victims.

In the same vein,  the acting director-general of the National Blood Service Commission (NBSC), Dr. Omale Amedu, has appealed to Nigerians to regularly donate blood to improve their health and be able to have children.

He gave the advice while speaking to newsmen in Abuja ahead of this year’s commemoration day of the World Blood Donation Day (WBDD).  He said:  “Regular blood donation not only saves lives but also enables the donor to obtain good health and renewed system.”

“Donating blood has so many advantages as it will make one look fresher, younger, and healthier and have prolonged life. This is because as you donate blood, the old cells in the blood system are taken away.

“So, if you are a regular donor, that means the old blood cells are taken and you manufacture fresh blood cells. You are servicing your system by renewing your strength, vigour and the contents of your system,” Amedu said.

He shared a testimony of a donor, who was unable to conceive for more than 12 years, in spite of a series of medical checkups that found nothing wrong with her.

He said: “But through the process of donating blood without seeking any medical help, she was able to conceive naturally and became pregnant. So, we can see that the renewal of the cells in the body, through blood donation, carries a lot of advantages.”

He encouraged more non-remunerated or unpaid blood donors to key into the commission’s One-Million-Safe-Blood-Units-Initiative (OMSBUI) project to increase the nation’s blood bank.

According to Amedu, when you are asked, requested or coerced to donate blood to someone you know, it means you are saving someone you know, “but voluntary unpaid donors are committed to saving the lives of unseen and unknown persons, and for that, we appreciate them for what they are doing.

“Our target is to ensure blood units collected will increase from the present 25,000 to one million by 2023 and three million by 2030,” he said.

He added that this year’s theme is to highlight the critical contributions voluntary, unpaid blood donors would be making to national health systems, as voluntary blood donation not just saves the lives of sick people in need of blood, but also accident victims, many of whom die due to scarcity of blood pints in hospitals across the country.

Continuing, Amedu said blood establishments in the country must be regulated because of the “the need to ensure that the quality of blood collected, screened and transfused to patients is optimal and unlikely to be a source of harm,” stressing that every single unit of donated blood and blood product is screened for the WHO mandated blood-borne infections including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis.

Olusola  Bello

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