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Scarcity of blood supply in Nigeria worsens

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By Mercy Kelani

Out of 2M units needed for its 200M citizens, Nigeria produces 500,000 units.

Nigeria has not been able to meet the quarterly blood needs which has caused disadvantages and has posed a national challenge in fulfilling the country’s reasonable level of health requirements. The detriment of this situation shows that there is scarcity of blood availability, leading to the production of 500,000 units by the country out of the two million units that is demanded by a population of over 200 million, and with this, the health delivery system of the country is weakened. The major component for patients’ safety and efficient health system is to ensure safe blood transfusion, effectiveness, access for all patients and the quality-assured blood products.

Africa’s giant is still affect by supply shortage of plasma and this has made the country to fail in the aspect of meeting the World Health Organisation (WHO) requirements. Dr. Joseph Amedu, the Acting Director General for National Blood Services Commission (NBSC), spoke at a ceremony to globally mark World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) that it is required, based on WHO standard, for every country to have at least one percent of blood units of her population for operations. He added that in Nigeria, blood is scarce due to low production — the production of 500,000 of two million units blood needed yearly.

Encouragement of public enlightenment campaigns.

Resultantly, the sum of 1.5 million pints of plasma yearly is additionally required from commercial donors, family or volunteers to prevent and replace the shortage. In reality, this situation is a major and national obstacle to safe blood distribution for transfusion as unsafe blood has disastrous impacts on the efficiency of major health services and programmes which provides required patient care for various chronic and acute conditions which have caused unnecessary millions of deaths. To address this issue, there must be a holistic approach to the poor nutrition levels and poverty which are inhibitors in Nigeria.

So many people in Nigeria believe that they lack a personal adequate blood supply, and they regard it as harmful to their health to donate from their supposed poor level . Still, other people donate their blood to reduce poverty affecting their status and make money. These divisions are unpromising as they contribute to the low blood quality for medical purposes. In addition, coupled with the above information, there are superstitious and religious disinclinations of many citizens to donate blood. It is required that relevant NGOs and the government commence regular, sustained and public enlightenment campaigns to discuss these issues.

Voluntary unpaid donors should ensure regular availability of plasma.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), quality-tested, safe and effective blood products promote improvement and saving of millions of lives yearly. These products address Maternal health — loss of blood during childbirth —and child mortality as they improve the quality of life and expectancy of patients that are suffering from hereditary life-threatening disorders such as immune deficiency, thalassemia and hemophilia, other deadly conditions like traumatic hemorrhage and cancer. It also supports surgical procedures and limits severe complication from accidents due to blood loss.

WHO stated that one percent plasma donation by one percent of the Nigerian population can make up for the nation’s most basic requirements. In 1997, WHO established a goal for all plasma donation to come from voluntary unpaid donors, especially the regular ones who donate at least three-four times per year, to ensure regular availability of blood at the given and appropriate time. In accordance with the theme of this year, “Give Blood, Give Plasma, Share Life, Share Often,” which stipulates the duties of a person, giving valuable gifts of plasma, Nigeria can adopt this initiative to change the narrative of its shortage and scarcity.

Plasma donation helps in weight management & maintenance of iron stores.

Hence, Nigerians should get rid of religious beliefs, superstitions and bad attitudes towards voluntary plasma donation, but donate willingly for the use of people who need it. Additionally, donating blood is also advantageous to the donor because there is maintenance of iron stores in the body which helps to reduce the danger of liver and heart disease. Also, cancer risk or other dangers can be curbed by the reduction of iron elements in the body. Likewise, donation of blood helps in weight management which helps the donors to maintain their weight, especially people who are obese and are exposed to cardiovascular diseases and health disorders.

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