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Awareness needed to enhance blood donation

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By Mercy Kelani

Voluntary blood donation is permitted globally but paid donation is discouraged.

Recently, in an interview conducted with Prof. Musa Muhibi, a Hematologist and Dean of the Faculty of Applied Health Science at the Edo State University, it was revealed that there is a need for creation of awareness for blood donation and blood transfusion. Blood transfusion is a medical process that entails the transfer of blood products gotten from a thoroughly screened donor to a recipient. It is usually done to boost the target blood component from significant deficiency to the normal or near normal reference level for the gender of age group of the patient.

Conditions that might require for blood transfusion for an individual include blood loss, caused by surgery, sickle cell diseases, injury, childbirth, anemia as well as serious diseases and some medical conditions that trigger blood loss or low blood cell counts. As much as blood transfusion is an essential medical resource, donation of blood by eligible individuals is crucial to maintenance of a safe and sufficient supply for patients in need. Voluntary blood donation and its significance is recognized across the globe for its sustenance of the blood transfusion system.

Nigerians believe donation reduces fertility & has spiritual effects.

To promote voluntary blood donation culture, it is necessary to create public awareness, mobile blood donation drives, improving resilience of blood donation infrastructure, tax incentives for organizations in support of voluntary blood donation, education campaigns, incentives for blood donation, safeguarded rights of donors, and appropriate use of units of donated blood in public and private medical facilities for sustainable blood donor motivation. However, there is a gap in blood donation which has to do with usage of the right technology for assessment of donors, preservation of blood products, determination of the compatibility of blood donor-recipient, and rational use of products.

Research has it that Nigerians believe in the falsehood that blood donation causes reduction of fertility and has negative spiritual effects. To suppress these myths, it is necessary to ensure implementation of an efficient communication strategy that is targeted on the provision of accurate information while tackling misconceptions, figuring out popular myths through research and implementing communication strategy duly. This should be done through consistent educational campaigns using social media, brochures, websites, and community events. There should also be promotion of collaboration amongst healthcare professionals, bloggers, relevant government agencies and community organizations.

Brain drain is a problem in the Nigerian medical profession.

Prior to donation of blood, blood donors are usually screened for HIV, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and syphilis. Usage of effective technologies for the screening is very essential as the inefficiency of common rapid kits can cause compromise, providing false assurance of the product’s safety when it is not. The minimum acceptable technology for screening blood donors for HIV and other transfusion transmissible infections is the fourth-generation ELISA (Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) technique which enables a reduction of negative results by simultaneously testing the antibodies and antigen.

Globally, unrequired financial inducement of blood donors is unacceptable and strongly discouraged as it poses a threat to the safety of blood transfusion. Paid donors have a high tendency of having transfusion-transmissible infections and they do no disclose risk factors and symptoms of infectious diseases as they are concerned about getting their money for donation. In Nigeria, brain drain is considered a problem in the medical field as medical professionals are not properly remunerated, with little accord of their due privileges and rights.

Healthcare professionals are needed in healthcare governance.

To boost healthcare delivery in Nigeria, Prof. Muhibi stated that there has to be an intentional involvement of other healthcare professionals in healthcare governance by the government. Health institutions managers do not all have to be physicians to avoid deprival of the system at the governance level of the knowledge and skills of other medical personnel like pharmacists, laboratory scientists and physiotherapists. Reduction of medical tourism requires a commensurate welfare package for professionals in this field, provision of modern equipment and creation of an enabling environment where medical personnel are treated as the professionals that they are and not as slaves.

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