By Hassan Zaggi
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has disclosed that Nigeria with the population of over 200m people needs an estimated two million unit of blood per year.
He, however, regretted that “much less than that is currently collected, leaving unmet needs that lead to avoidable deaths, morbidities and ill-health.
At a media briefing to mark the Blood Donor Day, in Abuja, Sunday, the Minister, appealed that: “You can help change this.”
Ehanire further lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic has put the supply of safe blood at risk.
This, according to him, is because regular blood donation “drives have had to be postponed or deferred, and regulations for self-isolation, lockdown and fear of infection have hindered the usual blood donors from accessing blood donation centers.
“Transport and trade restrictions have also led to disruptions of global supply chains, putting countries at risk of shortages of critical supplies and equipment used for blood donation, processing, testing and transfusion, to patients in need of blood.”
He, however, noted that in 2019, about 24,483 units of blood were collected and screened from volunteer blood donors through the 17 centres of NBTS network, while 19,676 units of blood were issued to various hospitals nationwide for transfusion purposes.
Ehanire further revealed that the legislative process of the bill for the establishment of a National Blood Service Commission is at an advanced stage and awaiting public hearing at the National Assembly.
“My Ministry is currently considering proposals for a major investment from public and private sectors to upgrade the capacity of the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) to enable it achieve its potential to produce blood components and plasma derived medicinal products at a commercial scale, that meets international best standards and to enter the world market. This ensures optimal utilization of each unit of whole blood collected,” the minister said.
He applauded the World Health Organisation (WHO) for what he described as its commitment and continued technical support to the NBTS over the years.
He, therefore, called on “people of goodwill all over the world and here at home in Nigeria, to become life-savers by volunteering to join the people who regularly donate blood to make safe blood available to everyone in need of it.”