The Federal Government has implored Nigerian youths to engage in regular blood and plasma donation to address the 1.5 million units of blood deficit required to save lives and treat life-threatening diseases.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Folunrusho Adebiyi, made the call during a press briefing on Wednesday in Abuja, during the commemoration of the 2023 World Blood Donor Day.
Represented by the Acting Director General, National Blood Service Commission, Dr. Omale Amedu, he said that the global health report showed that Nigeria needed an average of two million units of blood annually.
Adebiyi said if the target is met, Nigeria would keep the health of its over 200 million citizens safe and sound.
He said, “It is sad to note that out of these 200 million units of blood required as a nation, the blood service commission collects only 500,000 units, which are 25 per cent of the expected annual blood donation.
“This leaves us with a shortfall of 1.5 million units of blood which is 75 per cent of our expected annual blood donation.
“Why so little when about 60 per cent of our population are youths? This segment of our population forms the highest category of most active, qualified potential blood donors all over the world.
“Yet we can’t get enough blood transfusion to keep our population safe and sound.”
He, therefore, urged the public to donate blood regularly to reduce avoidable deaths, morbidities or ill health, particularly among pregnant women, children, cancer patients, victims of road traffic accidents and insurgencies, among others.
“For as long as the demand exceeds the supply, racketeering of blood and blood products will continue to thrive.
“But this situation can improve if only one per cent of our country’s adult population commit themselves to voluntary non-remunerated blood donation on a regular basis,” Adebiyi added.
According to him, hospitals and medical facilities need plasma urgently to treat a variety of conditions ranging from trauma, burns and bleeding disorders to primary immunodeficiencies, cancer and certain rare diseases.
He further disclosed that the NBSC had instituted the Tertiary Education Blood Safety Club to improve non-numerated blood donation among youths and create voluntary blood donation ambassadors.
The Country Representative, World Health Organisation, Dr Walter Mulombo, stressed the need to involve all stakeholders, especially traditional and religious leaders in the advocacies for blood donation.
Recalling the 2023 WBDD with the theme, ‘Give Blood, Give Plasma, Share Life, Share Often’, he called for all stakeholders to join in the campaign and meet the two million target of annual blood needs in the country.
Also, Director, Hospital Services, FMoH, Dr Salma Ibrahim-Anas, who was represented by Dr Kingsley Odiabera, Director, Medical Laboratory Services, stressed the need for more enlightenment that would erode myths, cultural and religious beliefs surrounding blood donation.
On his part, Mr Nathan John, Nigeria’s highest blood donor, said he was motivated to engage in voluntary free-will blood donation to save lives and improve the health of the recipients.
NAN reports that other activities to mark the WBDD celebration were the novelty football match, webinar and an award dinner for voluntary non-remunerated regular blood donors.