The Nigerian government is drafting a law to establish a National Blood Service Commission and a network of 17 trauma care centres across the country.
The commission is expected to enhance the performance of the National Blood Transfusion Service, NBTS.
The draft, which is being prepared by the Federal Ministry of Health, will soon be presented to the Federal Executive Council as an Executive bill.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja at an event organised by the ministry to commemorate the World Blood Donor Day.
According to the minister, the bill will grant the NBTS the autonomy it requires to carry out its mandate in consonance with global best practices.
“In addition to this, regularisation of the appointments of core technical staff previously engaged on the programme is being pursued in order to ensure that relevant skill sets are available to optimize service delivery at the Blood Service.
“The NBTS will thus have a proper mandate to provide safe, quality and adequate blood in an equitable and cost-effective manner to all people resident in Nigeria. This will be executed through a network of 17 centres spread across the six geopolitical zones, including the FCT.
“This is consistent with this year’s campaign and brings to fore the urgent need to foster collaborations with relevant agencies such as the Nigerian Red Cross Society, NEMA, Nigerian Police Force, Federal Road Safety Corps, Civil Defence Corps & the Nigerian Defence Forces in order to develop an Emergency protocol/ guidelines for action during emergencies,” he added.
The minister observed that insufficiency of blood for transfusion has been one of the reasons for high causalities and delay in attending to victims at health facilities in Africa, especially in Nigeria.
Mr. Adewole urged Nigerians to be voluntary blood donors as the increase in emergency cases across the country calls for a sufficient and sustainable blood bank.
He said emergencies increase the demand for blood transfusion and make its delivery challenging and complex.
He said adequate safe blood units during emergencies reduces mortality arising from severe acute blood losses following obstetric emergencies and trauma, especially during road traffic accidents, bomb blasts and collapsed buildings.
“With a population of over 180 million, the estimated blood need in Nigeria is about 1.8 million units of blood per annum. Unfortunately, much less is donated leading to avoidable deaths and morbidity particularly among women folk, newborn children, victims of road traffic accidents and insurgencies”.
He stressed that this situation can improve “if up to one per cent of our country’s adult population commit themselves to voluntary non-remunerated blood donation on a regular basis”.
The minister said voluntary non-remunerated blood donation accounts for only 10 per cent of Nigeria’s total blood collection, while family replacement donations and commercial donations account for 30 and 60 per cent respectively.
“This situation needs to be reversed as we move towards the attainment of 100 per cent voluntary non- remunerated blood donation by the year 2020”, he urged.
The World Blood Donor Day is celebrated around the globe on June 14 with events that help raise awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products world-wide, as well as to appreciate all those who voluntarily give their blood to save the lives of others.
The theme for this year’s campaign focuses on blood donation in emergencies with the slogan “What can you do? Give blood. Give Often”.
The campaign underlines the role everyone can play in helping others during emergency situations by donating blood. It also reinforces the message that it is important to give blood regularly, so that the blood stock is adequate before an emergency arises.
Alemu Wondimagehnehu, World Health Organisation Representative in Nigeria, in his goodwill message pledged the agency’s continual support of NBTS’ initiatives for ensuring that safe, lifesaving blood and blood products are available for all, particularly those in emergency situations.
He noted that this year’s theme was very relevant considering the rising cases of road traffic accidents, armed conflicts, natural or man-made disasters which all increase demand for blood transfusion.
“Many people die because the lack blood and blood products or risk infections when transfused with unsafe blood.
“The serious humanitarian crises facing Africa in recent decades have revealed inadequacies of national health systems in most countries to manage health emergencies including the timely availability, security and the accessibility of blood and everybody can play a role in emergency situations by giving blood as blood transfusion is an essential component of emergency healthcare,” he said.
He, however, acknowledged that progress has been made in improving the availability and safety of blood in the African region.
The 2016 report on the status of blood safety and availability in the WHO African region shows that several countries have improved their blood availability and safety in tandem with the World Health Assembly and regional committee resolution on blood safety.