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Hematologists urge intense voluntary blood donation campaign


LAGOS – Hematologists on Saturday in Lagos urged the media to improve and intensify awareness, to encourage and educate Nigerians on the benefits of voluntary blood donation.

The experts told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews that voluntary blood donation could prolong life and give needy patients second chance to life.

A Consultant with the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS), Dr Omo Izedonmwen, said that up to 23 pregnant women died on daily basis, due to a lack of access to safe blood.

The consultant said the figure was apart from the 165 women who died from child birth complications every day.

He attributed the development to cultural beliefs, poverty and a lack of funds which, he said, constituted a major challenge to effective blood donation and transfusion in the country.

“Everyday, 165 women die from child birth and 23 of those women would die because they do not have access to blood.

“These are issues that could be me, my wife, my brother, my sister, my friend or colleague.

“I want to see a situation where the media will take it as a challenge to break the jinx in blood donation and volunteerism to donate blood.’’

Izedonmwen said that a lack of public awareness and political will would hinder the development of an effective blood donation and transfusion system in the country.

He, however, advised the media to create awareness on the significance of an effective system of blood donation and transfusion.

“By the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate, Nigeria needs about 1,734,000 units of blood that can be got approximately from one per cent of her population.

“At the NBTS, however, we believe it is a little less; we think our national blood need is in the range of 1, 3000,000 to 1,4000,000 per annum,’’ he said.

Prof. Suleiman Akanmu, Head of Haematology and Blood Transfusion, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), said that regular blood donation would promote general health and prolong life.

Akanmu, a haematologist, said that most Nigerians had yet to imbibe the culture of voluntary blood donation, due to ignorance and misconception.

He advised the public to donate blood voluntarily at least, twice a year, to ensure availability of blood in the blood banks.

According to him, with blood donation, donors give patients a second chance in life.

“We should also seize the opportunity to enlighten the people that regular volunteer blood donation, not only is it not inimical to health, it promotes health and can indirectly prolong life.

“If you are able to do regular volunteer blood donation at least two times in a year for more than a period of 10 years, there is a way this exercise actually promotes your health,’’ he said.

The immediate past National President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Osahon Enabulele, said that commercialisation of blood donation posed risk of transmitting infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B.

Enabulele urged patients, their relatives and the entire populace to stop patronising commercial blood donors.

He urged more awareness on the need for Voluntary and Non-Remunerated Blood Donation (VNRBD) to increase access to safe blood.

The World Blood Donor Day is marked every June 14.

The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Safe Blood for Saving Mothers”.

According to WHO, everyday, many women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications.

Also, severe bleeding during delivery and after childbirth is a major cause of mortality, morbidity and long-term disability.

The goal of the commemoration is to increase awareness about why timely access to safe blood and blood products are essential for all countries as part of a comprehensive approach to preventing maternal deaths. (NAN)

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