By Gift Chapi Odekina
Following the recent accent to bill meant for the creation of Nigeria Blood Services commission by President Muhammadu Buhari, Dr. Omale Joseph, the director general of the Commission has said that his agency will subject to adequate funding, work to eliminate sharp and unwholesome practices by blood handling entities within the nation’s healthcare industry.
Dr. Omale stated this while briefing journalists in the House of Representatives, following the establishment of the new Commission as a product of a Bill sponsored by Hon. Abbas Tajudeen (APC, Kaduna), which was recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The DG, while responding to questions on the need to sanitize blood handling, utilization and administration in Nigeria noted that many blood administering officials in hospitals cut corners by administering expired bloods, saying that a safe blood has a lifespan of 35 days after which it becomes unsafe.
According to him, Nigerians have developed the habit of commercializing blood, as individuals donate blood for fees ranging between N20,000 and above, a practice he said the commission will strive to discourage, as blood is not a commercial commodity.
He said blood banks and centres will be established in the 36 states and local governments in the country, from where blood would be readily made available to health facilities needing it.
“Another area the Act would help is the issue of increasing the outlets where people can get blood. For example you rarely get blood banks outside major hospitals. Most of the states are only making do with only one or two blood banks. The establishment of the commission would ensure that not only state governments and their big tertiary hospitals would have blood banks, but every local government should have at least a blood bank, so that people in need would be able to access it easily and cheaply,” he said.
He solicited the support of the media to help propagate the message of blood donation among healthy Nigerians, saying that it further enhances the health of those who donate.
“Blood donation is necessary to keep one healthy. Once you donate blood, new cells come up to replenish the one you’ve donated, because blood produced by the body expires over time and reabsorbed by the body. But when removed from the body through donation, it gives room for new blood cells which makes the donor more healthy.
He said the Commission will also strive to collaborate with private pharmaceutical companies to produce drugs derived from blood cells, plasmas and other components of blood, rather than keep them to expire before use.
Earlier, the sponsor of the Bill, Hon. Tajudeen Abas who led the DG and his team to the House Media Centre informed that the president has signed it into law, thereby bringing to being the National Blood Services Commission.
“The president has assented to the bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Blood Service Commission.
“It is a very important milestone achieved in the medical sector of this country. Before the assent of the president, the industry had been fragmented. It had been to a great extent, unregulated and not too coordinated and because of that a lot of things are happening.
“Some of them was that the blood sold are not of the right quality and the recipient of some bloods instead of getting cured for what they were given would end up having some other kind of diseases.
“There was a baseline survey that was done in 2015 which revealed that the total requirement of Nigeria on blood is about 1.5 million pints. Based on the research it was established that 0.5 million pints was achieved at the end of each year and that translates to just one-third of our total requirements.
“We believe that such kind of paucity of donations of blood is partially so because there has not been an enabling environment and enabling act that would give the agency responsible to go out and look for donors.
“At the same time that survey further revealed thag of the 0.5 million pints that we are able to get, only 25 percent of it is coming through voluntary sources.
“75 percent of it is commercialized. So people would come give their blood and you pay them. And you know the implication of those who are giving their blood for payment. It means the recipient at the end of the day would also be made to pay much more”, he said.