The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has decried the low level of eligible adult blood donors in the country.
The National President of the association, Professor Innocent Ujah, made this known during a press conference to mark the 2021 World Blood Donor Day, in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
According to him, Blood transfusion service is a critical factor in the health sector and plays a major role in the reduction of morbidity and mortality, especially among women and children.
“There are some mind-blowing statistics about blood transfusion services in Nigeria that makes it imperative for the NMA and all stakeholders to get involved in creating awareness about voluntary blood donation and support for blood transfusion service in Nigeria.“ Prof. Ujah said.
He however noted that there are high-level Commercial Blood Donations which is the total blood donation in Nigeria
“In Nigeria, there is low level of eligible adult blood donor population (less than 4 percent compared to South Africa 11 percent, Canada 13 percent and USA 25 percent). There is also low-level of Voluntary Blood Donation (25,000 per annum), which is less than 3 percent of total blood donation in Nigeria.
“High level Commercial Blood Donation (1,030,000 per annum) which is above 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).”
The NMA President therefore called for improved funding of Blood Transfusion Service Centres in Nigeria as well as the inadequate regulatory Laws for the activities of the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) in Nigeria.
According to him, the NBTS Centres are poorly funded and in dire need of upgrade in terms of manpower, infrastructure, equipment and training.
“Nigeria with a population of over 200 million is blessed with a high youth population, giving her huge potential for achieving an incredible target of eligible voluntary blood donors. There is a yawning gap between the WHO recommended annual blood requirement for Nigeria (2,000,000 units) and the current figure of 1,000,000.“ Prof Ujah said.
He pointed out the challenges facing blood donation in Nigeria to include; “The blood transfusion service in Nigeria is plagued by a high rate of Commercial Blood Donation with the attendant risk of Transmission Transmissible Infections (TTIs).
Funding to NBTS centres across the country is poor leading to deficiency in the quality of her operations.
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.
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 made the following recommendations;
(a). Sustained positive action by all stakeholders towards making Voluntary Blood Donation a culture entrenched in all aspects of our lives.
(b). Improved budgeting and release of funds to the NBTS centres across Nigeria.
(c). State Governments should take ownership of the NBTS centres in their domain.
(d). Urgent need for all Stakeholders in government and in the health sector to join hands and push for the speedy passage of the National Blood Service Commission Bill and assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.