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Safe blood: Nigeria fails to meet WHO requirements

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To address this shortfall, WHO says that 1% blood donation by 1% of the population can meet a nation’s most basic requirements for blood. This implies that the voluntary, commercial and family replacement donors are less than 1% of Nigeria’s population.

For several years blood has been a scarce commodity in Nigeria and the situation does not seem set to change, meaning that Nigeria is still hit by shortage. So, the country has, sadly, failed to meet the World Health Organisation, WHO, requirements, a lamentable situation about which something should be done urgently. Available figures say that Nigeria requires 1.5m pints per annum; has only 5% voluntary donors, 60% commercial donors, 30% family replacement.

Even, attempts by some states of the federation to boost blood donation by making it mandatory for spouses of pregnant women to donate blood before they are registered in public hospitals for ante-natal care, is scaring many pregnant women away from public hospital delivery. This is an index of Nigeria’s failure in healthcare ranking. To address this shortfall, WHO says that 1% blood donation by 1% of the population can meet a nation’s most basic requirements for blood. This implies that the voluntary, commercial and family replacement donors are less than 1% of Nigeria’s population.

This is a major national challenge because poor availability of blood in the hospitals, when it is needed, is one of the reasons millions die needlessly from loss of blood during childbirth and accidents. Essentially, donating blood can save a patient’s life and limit the complications of severe blood loss, which can lead to a seriously low haemoglobin level and cause damage to body organs.

Despite this common knowledge, many Nigerians are not in the habit of donating blood because of superstition and religious beliefs; which combine to fuel a negative attitude of the public to voluntary blood donation. The common reasons given for not donating blood are unfounded because on the contrary, blood donation is beneficial to the donor. By donating blood, the iron stores in the body are maintained at healthy levels, hence helps in reducing the risk of heart and liver ailments caused by iron overload in the body. Also, a reduction in the iron level in the body can reduce cancer risk. In addition, it is a weight management strategy as regular blood donation reduces the weight of the donor. So, it is good for people who are obese and at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and other health related disorders to donate blood.

Furthermore, after donating blood, the body works to replenish the blood loss, which stimulates the production of new blood cells and in turn helps in maintaining good health. Obviously donating blood is good for the health of donors as well as those who need blood. So, Nigerians should not be afraid to donate blood. A donor’s age must be between 18 and 60 years and must weigh more than 45 kilogrammes. Also, the donor’s blood pressure must be normal. Premature ventricular contraction (PVC) that regulates the heart beat and pumping of blood must be at an acceptable level; and a minimum gap of 56 days is required between donations for the blood to reload. In addition, individuals can donate one unit or 350 ml of blood every 8 weeks. This wait time helps to replenish the blood levels in the donor’s body. Anyway, before giving blood, it is good to have healthy diet weeks before the donation, which can be achieved from local foods and plants so long as the appropriate method of cooking is adopted for preparation. On the day of donation, the donor must make sure he or she is well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.

In case the donor is undergoing any treatment is on medication, he or she should consult the doctor; and also inform the blood bank/clinic/hospital where blood is to be donated.

So, Nigerians should donate blood now because human blood cannot be manufactured; humans are the only source! As Nigerians, all should see blood donation as a personal responsibility to help others. As such, the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Orientation Agency and health focused NGOs should sensitise Nigerians on the benefits of blood donation and the need to donate blood.



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