To mark this year’s World Blood Donor Day, Nigerians have been urged to donate blood more.
The Nigerian government said while men should donate blood once every four months, women should do so every three months to meet Nigeria’s estimated blood needs which stands at 1.8 million units of blood per annum.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, who disclosed this at the 2018 World Blood Donors’ Day press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, decried the low percentage of free blood givers in the country.
Mr Adewole said statistics show that only 10 per cent of Nigerians donate blood freely while 60 per cent do it for money.
He said the remaining 30 per cent of blood donors only gave to relatives in need.
The minister stressed the need for Nigerians to donate blood freely instead of for money.
“Regular blood donation has many health benefits. Firstly, studies have shown that people who voluntarily donate blood have the likelihood of living longer,” he said.
Every year on 14 June, countries around the world celebrate World Blood Donor Day(WBDD). The event, established in 2004, serves to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products, and to thank blood donors for their voluntary, life-saving gifts of blood.
According to the World Health Organisation, ensuring safe and sufficient blood supplies requires the development of a nationally coordinated blood transfusion service based on voluntary non-remunerated blood donations.
However, in many countries, blood services face the challenge of making sufficient blood available, while also ensuring its quality and safety.
Nigeria falls under the category of insufficient blood as blood is usually not available when needed for most patients.
This has made health institutions in the country depend on patients’ relatives as donors or paid blood donor services, where people are paid to donate blood for patients.
WHO statistics on blood donation shows that about 112.5 million blood donations are collected worldwide and more than half of these are collected in high-income countries, home to 19 per cent of the world’s population.
Only 57 countries collect 100 per cent of their blood supply from voluntary, unpaid blood donors.
For Henry Ewononu, a medical expert, there is need to sensitise Nigerians on giving blood more freely.
“There is a global benchmark in which Nigeria is lacking behind.
“We don’t donate blood voluntarily. It only about 10 per cent of Nigerians that donate blood freely and this is low for the country.
“When you donate blood, you will be screened for diseases like HIV, Hepatitis A,B,C, Syphilis etc. This helps individuals to know their status.
“When you test negative to these diseases, there is always a motivation that urges you to continue living well and keep avoiding infections.
“Again, the life span of red blood cell in human system is 120 days but when you donate blood, you are automatically refreshing and renewing yourself. You are flushing your system. Something(s) have been removed and replaced. Blood must be replaced with blood.
“Most of our women die at childbirth because of loss of blood. We have short supply of blood in Nigeria. I think blood transfusion should be included under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).”
He urged Nigerians to donate blood more freely.