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Access to safe, quality blood threatens achievement of universal health coverage in Nigeria – Group warns

By Matthew Ogune Abuja
09 December 2022   |   11:23 am
As Nigeria marks the 2022 national blood donor day, a nonprofit organisation, Haima Health Initiative has doubted Nigeria's possibility of attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC) without access to safe, quality blood and blood products supply across all states.

… Urges religious bodies to encourage donation

As Nigeria marks the 2022 national blood donor day, a nonprofit organisation, Haima Health Initiative has doubted Nigeria’s possibility of attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC) without access to safe, quality blood and blood products supply across all states.

Founder, Haima Health Initiative, Bukola Bolarinwa made this observation in a statement, Friday in Abuja as part of the Initiative’s activities to commemorate Nigeria’s National Blood Donor Day expressed concern that lack of access to blood causes needless trauma and loss of lives.

Bolarinwa called on religious organisations to encourage and sensitise members to donate blood to help save lives.

She said: “This day allows us to commend the essential gift that blood donors voluntarily give and promotes voluntary blood donation as a civic responsibility.

“As an NGO focused on improving blood donation in Nigeria, Haima health sometimes calls on voluntary donors in emergencies.

“Donors may have to suddenly leave their homes, offices or schools to give blood to someone they do not know and are unlikely ever to meet.

“This type of selflessness deserves unfettered praise. Millions of people today owe their lives to the blood they received from someone. Despite medical advancements, there is currently no substitute for blood for patients in need other than getting it from a donor.

“This includes accident and emergency victims, women in labour and newborns, and patients with cancer and sickle cell. People with certain conditions like leukaemia and sickle cell may need regular transfusions, often requiring up to six donors at a time.

“In recent years, religious organisations have promoted civic education, including voter registration and education- this must extend to health education, including blood donation.

“All stakeholders must get involved in this essential cause, and religious organisations have an outsized influence on behavioural change that must be harnessed.

“We use today to call on all religious organisations to play their part in advocacy towards saving lives through voluntary blood donations

“It will be recalled that numerous churches and mosques have organized blood drives with Haima Health, where the NBSC, LSBTS or hospitals come to sensitize the congregation on the importance and process of blood donation. However, more religious organisations need to take up this cause.

“Most Christian and Islamic groups permit blood donation, and it is often considered a form of the charity since it provides a lifesaving gift to someone who is sick.

She went on: “It is imperative to assess how various stakeholders can come together to increase advocacy on the constant need for regular and unpaid donors across Nigeria. A major stakeholder that is often overlooked is religious organizations.

“It also maintained that several myths surrounding blood donation can be busted by religious organisations as most faithful trust their leadership. Religious organisations in Nigeria are much more than places of worship- they are centres of learning, education and enlightenment for people who often have limited access to information.”