The National Blood Transfusion Centre (NBTC) in Enugu has blamed religious and cultural inhibitions for the low rate of blood donation in the South East zone.
The Coordinator of the centre, Michael Chukwu, said in Enugu on Thursday that some churches in the zone have banned their members from donating blood.
“This religious problem is a very big thing, especially in this South East, where some clergy men would not allow us to come and sensitise the people during service to get blood.
“The culture of the people also that blood is a special thing that should not be given out; but it is the same people that rush here every day to come and access blood,” he said.
Mr. Chukwu said that the centre might decide to ban those religious groups from accessing blood from it.
He said the negative attitude has also affected the blood bank in the centre as it currently makes less than 200 units a month as against a target of 360 units.
The coordinator also decried the attitude of the government, tertiary institutions and corporate bodies toward supporting and encouraging blood donation.
Mr. Chukwu said the centre set up what he called ‘Club 25’ in some tertiary institutions in the state but regretted that they are not effective because of lack of funds to sustain it.
“Club 25 is a group of youth in higher institutions who vow to donate blood until they are 25 years of age or to donate blood 25 times in their life time and to remain HIV-negative throughout their life time.
“So it is a group of youths under 25 years,” he said.
The coordinator said they were encouraged to educate their group and become blood donors so that they can spread the message on HIV and Hepatitis B.
He appealed to the media to assist the centre by creating awareness, to encourage people to donate blood.
In her contribution, a haematologist at the Enugu State University of Technology Teaching Hospital, Ada Chineke, said that only those between 18 years and above and weigh above 50kg are allowed to donate blood.
Mrs. Chineke commended blood donors for saving lives and encouraged others to emulate them in order to save more lives in the country.
A blood donor, Emmanuel Edeafia, said that he decided to donate blood to the bank after watching a programme on the Nigerian Television Authority.
“I was touched on seeing how many people die due to lack of access to blood so I decided to come and donate to save a life”.
The United Nations has set aside June 14 every year to mark World Donors Day to encourage people to voluntarily donate blood to save lives.