Health care specialists in haematology and blood transfusion are sensitising Nigerians on the importance of having more voluntary blood donors in the country.
A Consultant Hematologist and Head of the department in Hematology and Blood Transfusion at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Dr Ann Abiola Ogbenna, joined her colleagues in leading the campaign which began this week.
The week-long sensitisation campaign through workshops and outreach at shopping malls seeks to encourage people to become blood donors.
In the words of Dr. Ann: “Over 80 per cent of our blood donors are her family replacement donors. That means you have a relative that needs blood. And that is what we want to stop because that relative or caregiver is already stressed and then we say ‘go and look for blood’’’
The campaign coincides with this year’s World Blood Donor Day which seeks to draw attention to the roles that voluntary blood donations play in saving lives and enhancing solidarity within communities.
According to the World Health Organisation, 0ne per cent of a country’s population needs to donate blood to have enough in the blood bank. With Nigeria’s population estimated at 240 million, haematologists say the country needs about a 2.4million units of blood.
But Professor OsunkaluOluseye, Consultant Hematologist and Blood Transfusionist at LUTH says Nigeria currently has a significant shortfall in donations to the blood bank.
“Recently the National Blood Transfusion Service in a recent presentation showed us they were collecting about 500,000 units of blood annually. That’s about a 73percent short of the target. We need to do more than we are doing,” Prof. Osunkalu said.
As healthcare providers work to improve the culture of blood donation in Nigeria, young and tech-savvy Nigerians are coming up with potential solutions.
Mubarak Ayeni is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Abuja. Mubarak and his co-founder, earlier this year, launched Beta life, a mobile app that lets patients find blood donors.
“Just like the case of the Ondo crisis, a lot of people needed blood, but there was a bridge of communication. So better life connects the patient to the donors and the blood bank, Mubarak told Voice of Nigeria at the blood donors sensitization workshop at LUTH.
The World Health Organisation says to ensure that everyone who needs transfusion has access to safe blood, all countries need voluntary, unpaid blood donors to give blood regularly. It says an effective blood donor programme, characterised by the wide and active participation of the population, is crucial in meeting the need for blood transfusion during peacetime as well as during emergencies or disasters.
Source: Voice of Nigeria