The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in its efforts to encourage voluntary blood donation in the country has called for the immediate passage of the National Blood Service Commission bill by National Assembly as well as the immediate assent by President Muhammadu Buhari. President of NMA, Prof. Innocent Ujah this in a message to mark this year’s World Blood Donor Day titled “Celebrating the Gift of Blood” expressed dismay over Nigeria’s inadequate annual blood requirement, saying the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 2,000,000 units annually as against Nigeria’s 1,000,000 unit.
He noted the low level of voluntary blood donation in the country, adding that “Nigeria has low level Voluntary Blood Donation of 25,000 per annum which is less than 3 percent of total blood donation in Nigeria, high level Commercial Blood Donation of 1,030,000 per annum which is also less than 90 percent of total blood donation in Nigeria. There is also a high rate of transmission of Transfusion Transmissible Infection among blood recipients from commercial donors in Nigeria (about 10 percent of HIV infection in Nigeria).”
Ujah also lamented over the poor funding of blood transfusion service centres, explaining the importance of the NBTS in the health sector as it plays a major role in the reduction of mortality and morbidity particularly in women and children.
He attributed the challenges of voluntary blood donation in the country to the commercialization of blood donation with the risk of Transmission Transmissible Infections (TTIs).
“Laws guiding the practice of blood transfusion medicine in Nigeria are inadequate with the attendant proliferation of quackery and other sharp practices in the sector and State NBTS centres are the worst hit since the withdrawal of donor funds by implementing partners as State Governments are yet to take full ownership of such centres in their domain,” the NMA president said.
Similarly, the Acting State Coordinator of NBTS, Taraba State, Dr. Yohanna Samaila urged Nigerians to stop selling their blood, adding that people should voluntarily donate blood to help those in need.
“Those who donate for money are poor people who are hungry and cannot even feed well, so their blood is not as rich as those of highly place individuals in the society.”
He also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic caused shortage of funding.
“At the moment, funding is our major challenge and Covid-19 has aggravated our challenges significantly.
“We are, however, hoping that the situation will improve,” he said.